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DEI Is Destroying My University
The subversive campaigns that targeted academia decades ago are coming to fruition.
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I entered academia as a professional ten years ago to realize a lifelong ambition focused on inspiring and informing rising professionals. Looking back twenty years ago when I was a college student, I wish I had professors who were supportive and interested in students’ endeavors and could help demonstrate how value is created and captured in the marketplace. In that spirit, I aim to model competitive drive, self-efficacy, and lifelong intellectual curiosity. As a result, I now have the largest enrollment in the university’s history.
Upon procuring my first full-time faculty appointment, I immediately enjoyed contributing to the marketplace of ideas and helping students spin up companies. Over the years, it’s been equally fulfilling to support former students preparing for impending leadership roles in various sectors. I care about this career, and it’s fulfilling to see students’ multi-year residual benefits when I help increase their earnings power and focus their entrepreneurial solutioning.
To enter academia, the rigor of epistemological training during doctoral studies was transformational. The acculturation in academia was imprinting and charming, and fortunately, was not [yet] steeped in leftist illiberalism that permeates the academy today. I developed a reverence and appreciation for the historical and contemporary impact of the academy, particularly on business markets.
As a business professor, I build curricula from the perspective that our economic system is generative, rather than a finite pie from which people are entitled to a slice. This viewpoint should not be career threatening but the walls are closing in. Putting forth ideas centered around wealth creation, generative capital, and strengthening the families of my students—our institution’s primary stakeholders—should not be hotly controversial, but this framing is overtly maligned by leftist colleagues.
I grew up in a middle class suburb as a second generation American. My childhood represented an “assimilation mission accomplished” in that I attended summer camp, enjoyed social life at school, and invested emotional energy in our local professional sports teams. Childhood was quintessentially American, with a bicycle offering a sense of boundlessness and school dances among the highlights of the years. When preparing for college—a mandate of my first-generation parent—I followed the family legacy and pursued the state flagship. Upon acceptance, I had honored tradition and further realized American ethos.
While attending college, a strange thing began to happen that I can describe as anti-capitalistic, intolerant campus protest culture with claims of pursuing equality. This strain of behavior was present at other public universities, shown to me by friends when I visited their flagship institution. This parasitic behavior has since evolved into “centers of excellence,” policy, and other embedded and endowed components of the academy.
Twenty years later as a faculty member, I’m enclosed by diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) agendas and mandates. To question or challenge such activities often results in demotions from consequential committees and leadership posts, or worse, different forms of expulsion from faculty service.
I will soon be reviewed by colleagues for a senior professor ranking, which will then be followed by a five-year review period before my ranking becomes “solidified.” Tenure offers a protected professional status but does not shield a professor from reputational blights. I have neither tenure or senior administrators providing institutional cover for any professional risks. Nevertheless, I have succeeded in empowering students with strong business acumen measured by high career placement earnings that rank among the top ten in the nation by The Economist. This success requires independent curricula development and active disassociation from unrelated, and often illogical, DEI initiatives. As such, I’m under fire.
No matter the level of impact on the wellbeing of my students and the vested families behind them—and no matter the high demand and interest in my classes in scope of my institution’s history—I offend the sensibilities and fragility of intolerant leftists.
DEI represents a new wave of illiberal, anticompetitive, anti-individualistic, and in many respects, anti-American ethos. To question whether DEI initiatives serve eastern geopolitical interests to weaken American society and its monetary position in the world would be more blasphemous than the supposed “compliant racism” of not participating in DEI programming. To me, it’s clear the subversive campaigns that targeted academia decades ago are coming to fruition.
You are welcome to join me for my journaling, testimony, and ideas from inside the academy. Please allow me to remain anonymous until my solidified ranking is realized. At that time, I have every intention of revealing my identity and institution. Until then, I hope my writing offers clarity on a pervasive phenomenon that needs dissent.
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Journal Entry 1: A Dual Existence
As a university marketing professor, I live two existences with almost insurmountable dissonance; one in mind (a pursuit of knowledge and intent to empower students with efficacy, grit, and intellectual curiosity), and one in practice (an appeasing modality under a wave of woke ideology). Our provost and every subordinate administrative stakeholder champions “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) causes, policy, and allocations of funds that are strikingly doctrined, rather than reasoned. To accompany a growing list of institutional DEI mandates, unwritten rules have emerged that are softly imposed through collegial or bullish pressure.
Over the past several years, I have been encouraged to “update” my syllabi’s readings, case studies, and article selections to include authors that represent skin colors different from mine. Otherwise, as noted by [battered] colleagues, minority communities will not be “seen.” This urging by colleagues does not factor the topical fit, content relevance, reputability, validity, soundness, or credibility of the curricula. The irrationality of such “soft impositions” are intensifying.
Over the past nine years in academia, I have pursued seemingly countless DEI training seminars, which are still deemed insufficient. This year, a caring colleague recommended three credential-issuing, multi-day (or longer) DEI trainings to provide me “ally” coverage. This “nudge” was to help avoid what they had endured the semester prior: a cross-examination by an ethics review board after a cohort of underperforming students were encouraged to challenge their grades to uncover the professor’s inherent biases. The professor was eventually exonerated, but only after enduring weeks of stress and intrusion. The students were collectively bolstered by campus-employed advocates of “multicultural information.” I have personally overheard one such administrator spiritedly levying the quote, “change the world one patriarchal actor at a time, especially on your campus,” which was likened to enlisting troops.
Several of my colleagues have battled unsubstantiated accusations of racism or microaggressions, as “evidenced” by their lack of representation in their professional associations (e.g. white guest speakers who are recruited to offer industry insights to the class) and preferred manners of gesturing, which are often outward pointing in sequence with speaking intonations instead of steady soft postures (i.e., “safer” hand movements). All the while, an increasing number of students are offered a “free ticket” of excuses to forego coursework rigor with claims of mental health distress amidst faculty pressure to validate students’ feelings and hindrance claims under any circumstance.
As a Jewish professor, several students have confided in me about the lack of options to learn about Israel without anti-American sentiment espoused by newly-hired professors who are professionally washed in DEI ideology. After auditing one such class, I heard concerningly dangerous conjecture and partiality. This particular professor was recently awarded for their DEI efforts on campus and in the community.
In my recent attempt to disavow a proposed requirement for all professors to publish a diversity statement on our faculty biographies, I offered parallels to an Orwellian mechanism for groupthink and a lack of agency in intelligentsia. I proclaimed academics as an essential community to help evolve zeitgeist opinionating by modeling critical thought and nuanced explorations in pursuit of enlightenment or respectful and constructive dialogic exchanges.
The reaction from the faculty committee was a parade of platitudes steeped in virtue signaling, identity politics, and victimization tropes that pinned me as an oppressor, whether ignorant of such “violence” or worse, intentionally racist. The faculty seemed like caricature participants without agency or capability to hear detraction. A few colleagues’ statements seemed forced, reluctant, and dispirited, meaning they were likely under such professional pressure to entrench themselves publicly as “anti-racist” that they were willing to racialize non-racial discussions, issues, or policy debates.
Perhaps it was an afterthought to my colleagues that, despite my dissent, I expressed my willingness to meet the requirement, which I stated in the preface and conclusion of my statement. True to the times in which academics serve, but lacking a protection of any truth, I was sternly and “caringly” mentored by colleagues to never challenge diversity ideology in an overt manner. The politics of rankings considerations and reputational standing weigh over junior faculty who cannot afford to abide by the explicit and implied mission of our university. Diversity ideology is pervasive and has become an overriding priority to what the university’s real mission explicitly states and implies.
Intolerance in the form of hasty divestment campaigns, speaker protests, curricula scrutiny, and maligning expressions of patriotism are often emboldened and enabled by campus administrators and campus employees. As mentored and repeatedly warned, any further overt dissent and reasoned objections to such behaviors could pose great professional risks. As an entrepreneur and academic, I accept this reality with an appeal to professionally associate with any professor with enough internal political capital to “adopt me.” This senior colleague would need intellectual leadership and moral courage to inspire trustees, advisors, and funding stakeholders, otherwise the institution will enclose upon them.
Resolve, as a virtue, will not be enough.
Hypatia (a pseudonym) is a full-time business professor at a top-tier private, “Power Five” conference university. Hypatia is an awarded professor for pedagogy. Previous faculty appointments include elite American institutions spanning a decade of service. Hypatia has seen the academy overcome by a pervasive ideology antithetical to American liberty and rationality.