Those of us who work in the capital city I refer to as “Mordor” have slim pickings on where to live, and I chose Virginia, which I consider to be the most conservative option. Little did I know, the Old Dominion ranks first in the nation for applying the Left’s most effective tool in weaponizing public universities: offices purporting to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

These DEI offices are the bureaucracy of the bureaucracy. They exist to push leftist ideology throughout the institution, hounding school administrators, staff, and professors to toe the line on “anti-racism” and gender ideology.

They represent a new priesthood pushing leftist dogma within noble institutions once dedicated to higher learning but increasingly acting as ideological factories that produce “woke” activists.

While corporate America has begun excising the DEI cancer, it has taken root and flourished in academia.

A Case Study: Virginia Tech

Last week, we saw DEI on full display when Virginia Tech’s DEI director, Catherine Cotrupi, used her publicly funded email account to forward someone’s email pleading with readers to campaign against school board candidates the email branded as “hateful.”

Why did the candidates qualify as “hateful?” Because they support Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s commonsense policies on transgender issues. Youngkin, of course, is a Republican.

One of the targeted school board candidates said she was considering filing a lawsuit. The other candidate is a father who personally experienced the “transgender” nightmare of having a school tell him it knows better than him what is good for his daughter.

From public comments on Facebook, it seems that some of Cotrupi’s colleagues have defended her, saying that it’s her job to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion and that the school board candidates were spreading “hate.” Therefore, it is permissible for Cotrupi to use government funds to encourage people to campaign against these candidates— regardless of what the law or Virginia Tech’s official policy states.

This defense reveals the underlying mentality of DEI and why these offices pose such a threat to open discourse in American universities.

The email in question praises two school board candidates, one for attacking “anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric” by “comparing it to the racism she experienced growing up in the era of school integration resistance” and the other for opposing “the hateful proposals being set forth by the Moms for Liberty crowd.”

These sentences sum up the Left’s attack on the parental rights movement, specifically echoing the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Corrupt Southern Poverty Law Center

As I explain in my book Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the SPLC took the program it has used to bankrupt organizations associated with the Ku Klux Klan and weaponized it against conservative groups, partially to scare its donors into ponying up cash and partially to silence ideological opponents. In 2019, amid a racial discrimination and sexual harassment scandal that led the SPLC to fire its co-founder, a former employee came forward to call the “hate” accusations a “highly profitable scam.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center puts conservative groups on a “hate map” with the KKK. In 2012, a terrorist used this “hate map” to target a Christian nonprofit in Washington, D.C. Although the SPLC condemned the attack, it kept the target of the gunman’s attack on its “hate map.”

Earlier this year, the SPLC added parental rights groups, including Moms for Liberty and Parents Defending Education, to its “hate map.” A few months before that, the SPLC compared the parental rights movement to the “Uptown Klans” of white southerners opposed to school integration in the 1950s.

It may seem an accident that one DEI director at Virginia Tech forwarded this one email opposing school board candidates and echoing the SPLC, but the DEI apparatus exists to forward a notion of “diversity” that brands opponents as “racist,” “bigoted,” or “hateful.”

Americans support the concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion, but the DEI movement defines these terms in divisive ways: Racial diversity counts, but ideological diversity does not. “Equity” translates to redistribution of wealth along racial lines rather than equal rules for everyone to succeed according to his or her effort and merit. “Inclusion” encompasses any sexual or gender “identity,” but rarely the Judeo-Christian principles that built the very universities these DEI offices subvert.

DEI also isn’t limited to Virginia Tech.

Heritage Tracks the DEI Spread: Virginia The Most Infected

A Heritage Foundation report measured the size of DEI bureaucracies at the 65 universities that in 2021 were members of one of the Power 5 athletic conferences (the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Pac-12, the Southeastern Conference, and the Atlantic Coast Conference), finding that the average university listed more than 45 people as having formal responsibility for promoting DEI goals. (The Daily Signal is The Heritage Foundation’s news outlet.)

DEI staff outnumbered professors at the average university’s history department (by a factor of 1.4 to 1). The average university had 3.4 employees working to promote DEI for every 100 tenured or tenure-track faculty members.

Although universities in California and Oregon employed many DEI staff, Virginia ranked No.1 in the nation for the most leftist culture warriors working full time, according to a recent Heritage analysis.

The University of Virginia listed 94 employees as part of its DEI bureaucracy, while Virginia Tech had 83 and George Mason University had 69 — a far greater percentage of staff per 100 tenured or tenure-track faculty.

Virginians consider George Mason University a center-right school, but its University Life division hosts a “Black Lives Matter” website that recommends donating to or signing petitions for organizations that support abolishing police departments, engaging in Marxist revolution, treating Americans differently according to their race, and diminishing the nuclear family. The school’s “advocate” button links to an article entitled “Guide to Being an Anti-Racism Activist,” which implores readers to combat “systemic racism” and encourages white readers to acknowledge “the racism that lives within you.”

As Youngkin spoke at George Mason’s graduation ceremony in May, Galilea Sejas-Machado, a student who founded the Hispanic Latine Leadership Alliance (which appears to use “Latine” in its name and refers to Latino and Latina students as “Latinx”) and served as a student ambassador at the Center for Culture, Equity and Empowerment, held a sign reading “We Will Not Debate Humanity!”

Sejas-Machado had given a speech honoring “Indigenous communities and sovereign tribes,” in which she identified herself as “a strong, independent Latine woman.”

DEI activists have used the idea of “diversity” to set up an ideological bureaucracy in the academy, and this bureaucracy undermines the open debate and free inquiry that should define higher learning. These offices impose the tenets of woke ideology, from an obsession with race to the mandated belief that a man can become a woman just by saying so.

The Virginia Tech DEI director’s decision to use her publicly funded email account to oppose “hate” in an school board election marks one example of how universities’ DEI bloat impacts the world outside the ivied walls of higher learning.

As more students such as Sejas-Machado matriculate through these institutions, this ideology will spread far beyond the university.

 

Tyler O’Neil is managing editor of The Daily Signal and the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Copyright 2023 The Daily Signal





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