ALEXANDER: The Death of Academic Freedom Through Diversity, Inclusion, Equity

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It’s interesting to view modern events in the context of history.  When we do, we are often surprised by the irony in some of the changes.

In the 1960’s in America, it was college campuses that were at the heart of the battle for free speech and academic freedom.  College students regularly protested, picketed and engaged in “sit ins” on their college campuses demanding the right to be heard.  One historic example is student protests regarding the Vietnam War.  As a result, colleges and university administrations were often forced to compromise to meet these demands.

The exact opposite is occurring on college and university campuses today.

Whatever term is used to describe today’s suppression of and hostility to academic freedom—political correctness, the cancel culture or the woke movement—the result is the same.  These institutions are now opposing academic freedom at every turn while striving to cement divisive, identity-focused politics on campus.

How so?

Creeping like bacteria into the fertile grounds of Leftist college faculty and administrators is an ideology that is described as Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (DIE).  However, it’s critical to note that the three words that make up DIE have been tortured to mean exactly the opposite of what we would think.  DIE seeks to distort and control the meaning of words and when that happens, thought itself is controlled.

As Matthew Spalding has described it, DIE “is especially toxic.  It divides us by social identity groups, ranks those groups on privilege and power, and excludes those who fail to honor the new orthodoxy.  Rather than being equally endowed with innate dignity and fundamental rights as human beings—best judged by our character and not skin color—we are supposed to discriminate and confer status based on race, sex and cultural affinity.”  (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 10, 2023).


This is especially bad in the context of colleges and universities.

As Matthew Spalding further notes “wherever this agenda is allowed to take root, free expression and academic integrity are doomed.”

Under the DIEcreed, diversity doesn’t refer to celebrating our National Creed, E Pluribus Unum, a Latin phrase meaning ‘Out of Many, One’ signifying that America’s strength comes from the diverse cultural, religious, ethnic, racial and intellectual differences being melded into One Nation striving to Perfect Our Union by advancing our fundamental constitutional principles of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”


On the contrary, to the Left, DIE means diversity in all things except thought, with free expression rigidly controlled by the Thought Police.

But there is more.

The Heritage Foundation undertook a study entitled “Inclusion Delusion: The Antisemitism of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Staff at Universities.”  The study first notes that the number of people devoted to DIE efforts has grown to about 45 people at the average university and then examines whether these large DIE staff are, in fact, creating a tolerant and welcoming environment on college campuses.   Interestingly, the study also specifically examined the extent to which DIE staff at universities express anti-Israel attitudes that are so out of proportion and imbalanced as to constitute antisemitism.

What was the conclusion of the Heritage study?

That “university DIE staff are better understood as political activists with a narrow and often radical political agenda rather than promoters of welcoming and inclusive environments.  Many DIE staff are particularly unwelcoming toward Jewish students and the political activism of DIE staff may help explain the rising frequency of antisemitic incidents on college campuses. Rather than promoting diversity and inclusion, universities may be contributing to an increase in anti-Jewish hatred by expanding DIE staff and power.” (Jay Greene, Ph.D. and James Paul, Dec. 8, 2021).


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has pushed back hard against DIE.

To ascertain funding at its state colleges and universities, Gov. DeSantis scrutinized what funds were used for DIE.  He discovered that numerous DIE staff members are on the payrolls of Florida’s colleges and universities and that DIE “may be better understood as jobs programs subsidizing political activism without improving campus climate,” not fostering a welcoming environment for all students.

This kind of censorship simply cannot be allowed if our Republic—and the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution—are to endure.  The greatest virtue of free thought and free speech is that all kinds of ideas are thrust into the rough and tumble of the marketplace of ideas where the best idea prevails.

DIE must be opposed and defeated, and die.



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