SADOW: Pull DEI Out By Its Roots To Protect Louisiana Colleges

The Louisiana Legislature needs to take a broader approach than the Republican State Central Committee to ensure that sex, ethnic or national characteristics, or political or religious beliefs or affiliations stay out of decisions regarding its students and employees.

Earlier this month, the RSCC passed a resolution asking the legislature to ban diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) departments and offices within all colleges and universities in the state, both public and private. It declares such expenditures of tax dollars at state schools promote a particular political orthodoxy in institutions that by definition are to serve as repositories of robust inquiry and implies that money is spent needlessly on that proselytizing.

This request overlaps to a small degree with HR 13 by Republican state Rep. Valarie Hodges. The resolution, which actually can’t compel as a law could, would have all state education institutions in the state, from elementary through high schools and colleges, submit reports on programs and activities related to DEI, critical race theory and social emotional learning. The reports would identify whether dedicated DEI infrastructures exist at higher education institutions.

A review of these shows they vary considerably. Ironically, the least diverse institutions in the state – the historically black universities of the Southern University System, where altogether 87.7 percent of enrollees are black while only 5.3 percent are non-Hispanic whites, and historically black Grambling State University with a student body 91.5 percent black and just 2.1 percent white – have almost no DEI bureaucracies, although Southern University’s graduate law and agriculture schools have a bit more formal structure to theirs.

By contrast, DEI is infused thoroughly throughout Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. For example, in recent years its colleges formulated statements articulating DEI goals and created associate dean-level positions dedicated to these, with one faculty member hired into such a post proclaiming that “we must work toward a College that is actively engaged in ending the systemic racism and bias that stands in the way of our educational mission and community health.”


Yet the threat that DEI poses to the concept of the university, in that it contradicts a mission of free inquiry, isn’t so much its formal superstructures as it is its insidious informal infiltration into education’s inner workings. For example, increasingly universities are requiring hiring committees, tenure committees, and admissions offices to ask applicants to submit “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” statements that become part of criteria evaluated for acceptance.

As a result, a better approach would be for Louisiana’s higher education governing boards – mirroring the University of North Carolina System’s earlier this year – to adopt policies prohibiting employees from soliciting or requiring an “employee or applicant for academic admission or employment to affirmatively ascribe to or opine about beliefs, affiliations, ideals, or principles regarding matters of contemporary political debate or social action as a condition to admission, employment, or professional advancement. Nor shall any employee or applicant be solicited or required to describe his or her actions in support of, or in opposition to, such beliefs, affiliations, ideals, or principles.” This reflects the Shils Report issued by the University of Chicago in 1972, which stated that the only criteria that can be used in appointment and tenure decisions are research, teaching, service, and contribution to the intellectual community, as well as reflects the likely outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court decision by mid-year.

The Shils Report was one of three issued by Chicago concerning academic freedom and the role of the university in promoting it. Another, the Principles of Free Expression, all state systems committed to a few years ago in response to a law passed by the Legislature. It would be nice if those systems emulated the UNC system on sidelining the destructive ideology behind most DEI efforts. If they don’t, the Legislature needs to step in and, as it had to a few years back, do their job for them.



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