A Parasite at the Core of American Higher Education

Marina Ziemnick

CounterCurrent: Week of 11/13

When most Americans think of higher education, what likely comes to mind is the quintessential image of a distinguished professor in an even more distinguished office, complete with a leather couch, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, and hundreds of seemingly ancient books. The professor, whether in the form of the excitable, crazy-haired genius or the absentminded intellectual with his fingers perpetually stroking his chin, is seen as the king of his domain, ruling over (and hopefully teaching) the students who come through his courses.

The reality, of course, is quite different. The American academy is not ruled by its faculty (distinguished or not) but by its administrators, whose decisions determine the tiniest minutia of students and professors lives on campus. A mere glimpse at the payroll of most American universities will confirm who really calls the shots on campus, with administrative bloat being one of the leading causes of the skyrocketing tuition costs that led to the student debt crisis. If you need more proof, just take a look at the average college student's inbox—the flood of emails from the Office of This, That, and the Other will far outweigh the number of emails that are actually related to course content.

In recent years, the diversity regime has emerged as the most powerful component of the university bureaucracy, with a “mission” that encroaches on every aspect of university life. Rather than improving diversity of thought and experience on campus, these Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) offices tend to stoke division and encourage students to self-segregate along racial lines. Their toxic and divisive ideology has received much attention—but the way in which they amass power and embed themselves within university systems has been largely overlooked.

In this week’s featured article, National Association of Scholars Junior Researcher Mason Goad describes how DEI (or, more accurately, DIE) bureaucracies are structured in a way that entrenches their power and influence within the university system. Goad suggests that we should consider the DIE bureaucracy “as an extended organism, or better yet, as an extended parasite” that is “intentionally designed to foster blind obedience to authority.”

Goad identifies four characteristics of a system designed to trap well-meaning individuals into advancing a malevolent agenda. These include the use of contractual obligations to control behavior, the assignment of supposedly meaningful roles, the enforcement of vague and arbitrary rules, and the replacement of reality-based language with enticing rhetoric. All four of these characteristics are apparent in the DIE bureaucracy, from the use of diversity statements to filter candidates for faculty positions, to the creation of seemingly endless administrative positions, to the policing of every-day language for microaggressions and “implicit bias.”

Taken together, these carefully crafted traps ensure that the parasite can spread undisturbed throughout the entire university system. As Goad writes,

The DIE bureaucracy then increases its actions incrementally, trapping its victims ever further. It offers an ideology for victims’ minds to rest upon and makes the exit costs as high as possible, such as the loss of one’s job and professional exile. In doing so, the extended parasite secures its environment and its future.

Although the diversity bureaucracy’s parasitic structure makes it difficult to unravel, dismantling the bureaucracy isn’t impossible—and exposing the roots of its power is a good place to start:

There are many policy-based pesticides that we may deploy against the DIE bureaucracy, but sunlight is a solid disinfectant. Educating others about these psychological “traps” will be useful, as will thorough explanations of what DIE ideology actually is and why it proves so harmful. Long-term solutions will require the return of right-wing intellectuals to our universities in order to bring balance to the ecosystem and to defend the academy—a nexus of the nation’s culture—from psychopathic subversion. No matter what treatment we use, recognize that each has a common denominator: the presence of courageous voices, and the necessity that they be heard.

NAS is committed to exposing the damage done by the diversity bureaucracy and resisting the corrosive ideology that drives their work. We urge you to join us in our efforts. Without this resistance, the honest and open pursuit of truth that used to characterize American universities may be snuffed out entirely.

Until next week.

CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’ weekly newsletter, written by Communications Associate Marina Ziemnick. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

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