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Why Kentucky Should Eliminate Harmful DEI Programs

Colleges in Kentucky—and across the country—have a major problem of intolerance and division. And it’s not a problem that adding another diversity training is going to solve.

If it were, the staggering $9.4 billion that universities spend on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) on campuses every year wouldn’t be coinciding with a 300 percent rise in antisemitic attacks and an increase in other forms of division. Jewish students at the University of Kentucky wouldn’t hesitate to leave home wearing displays of their faith for fear of antisemitic backlash.

DEI efforts aren’t working to create intellectually diverse environments on university campuses. Instead, they’re fostering political indoctrination, dividing campuses, and making college even more expensive. Kentucky should defund—not expand—DEI efforts.

DEI efforts promote political indoctrination

Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, federally funded programs cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Why, then, are new employees and existing faculty at colleges and universities being hired for the sake of “diversity” alone, with many being required to submit “diversity statements,” which are a poorly disguised political litmus test? 

DEI measures, supporters say, aim to create a more diverse, welcoming atmosphere. In reality, these measures are in direct opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because they specifically separate students and faculty by race:

  • Diversity criteria is included in college admissions decisions, which discriminate against prospective students based on their race and other qualities.
  • DEI trainings separate students and faculty by race and highlight—even emphasize—racial stereotyping. A program at Clemson University instructed that valuing punctuality was culturally insensitive.
  • Another at The Ohio State University calls for medical students to learn to evaluate everything through the lens of race and identity, rather than evaluating patients individually.
  • Staff at the Department of the Treasury were subjected to training that taught that “virtually all White people (…) contribute to racism.”

DEI programs don’t improve diversity and inclusion, but they are effective at political indoctrination.

DEI initiatives are ineffective

One of the main reasons DEI programs should be defunded is not that they’re only overtly political, but they’re simply ineffective. They don’t make college campuses more intellectually diverse, inclusive, or equitable places. Researchers have attempted to quantify the effectiveness of DEI initiatives and have found no evidence that DEI measures are effective.

There is some evidence that indicates these programs may be hurting more than helping. For example, implicit bias training teaches people to recognize subconscious bias. These have been shown not to have any impact on individual behaviors and attitudes, or even the opposite impact they are intended to have.

Most concerning is the fact that the “diversity” efforts have done little or nothing to address hostility towards certain groups, like the University of Kentucky’s Jewish students. Few DEI offices have any programming related to antisemitism.  

DEI efforts are costly, and make college more expensive

DEI efforts are ineffective, and the costs of these programs are exorbitant and add to the administrative bloat that’s causing college tuition to skyrocket. Just take a look at the numbers and consider the inevitable impact of DEI programs on the price of tuition:

  • The average public university has 45 DEI administrators on staff. 
  • A majority of these DEI officials make more than $100,000 per year, and 24 percent earn more than $200,000 per year.

Kentucky is on the high end of this list, with only the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech paying their top diversity officials more than the University of Kentucky.

The top diversity official at the University of Kentucky makes $360,000 per year—more than 10 times the median salary of the average Kentucky adult.  In a state where it’s already a challenge to afford education, state and education leaders should be looking for ways to lower costs for students and reduce any unnecessary and ineffective bureaucracy in academia. Hundreds of thousands of dollars on initiatives that do little to achieve their stated goal seems like an easy place to start.   

Bottom line: Kentucky should defund DEI initiatives

Proponents of DEI initiatives say they’ll create more inclusive and diverse environments, but the reality is starkly different. Instead, students and faculty are expected to fall in line with a particular narrative or face any number of social consequences. The solution is clear: Kentucky needs to defund DEI programs in public colleges and universities.

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