DEI from Up High

Kali Jerrard

CounterCurrent: Week of 03/18/2024

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) in medical programs? It is not surprising, nor is it the first time grant money has been allocated for the purpose of furthering this discriminatory ideology. 

John D. Sailer of the National Association of Scholars acquired thousands of pages of documents, revealing “how the [National Institutes of Health (NIH)] enforces an ideological agenda, prompting universities and medical schools to vet potential biomedical scientists for wrongthink regarding diversity.” The NIH has long been known to support DEI, and require the schools it funds to hire for diversity. Cornell University is just the latest to take the grant money from the NIH and join the ranks of the DEI-cluster hiring cadre. 

Sailer has reported on NIH grants before. The NIH’s Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) program, “which funds diversity-focused faculty hiring in the biomedical sciences,” has already funded institutions like the University of South Carolina and the University of New Mexico. By accepting FIRST grant money, colleges, universities, and medical schools must use diversity statements for all grant faculty hires. If candidates do not demonstrate sufficient devotion to DEI based on rubrics, they receive a low score—and typically will not be hired. Sailer explains,

That rubric penalizes job candidates for espousing colorblind equality and gives low scores to those who say they intend to ‘treat everyone the same.’ It likewise docks candidates who express skepticism about the practice of dividing students and faculty into racially segregated ‘affinity groups.’  

Additionally, the FIRST rubrics often value DEI commitment on par with merit and academic excellence. The consideration given to DEI may vary depending on the rubric—like the Florida State University faculty hiring rubric which weighs DEI commitment at 28 percent—but it is a key factor regardless. Requiring a quota of diversity hires without respect to merit, especially in the medical field, is an alarming trend. Not only because schools will be churning out students who could have a deficiency of proper training, but also for ideological discrimination against faculty. Sailer’s records requests show the truth behind DEI-hiring,

The records underscore that scientists simply can’t get hired in the program without an outstanding DEI score. Northwestern’s grant progress report describes an evaluation rubric that equally weighs a 'commitment to diversity' and research potential—a remarkable value judgment for a program focused on cancer, cardiovascular health and neuroscience.  

The FIRST grant program sets a dangerous precedent. Even some colleges and universities who have not received FIRST grants are utilizing DEI-rubrics in hiring decisions—their motivations for doing so are not always disclosed, but it usually comes down to status, seeking future funding, or sheer commitment to the DEI ideology. 

From administrative bloat to DEI-cluster hiring and merit-blind admissions quotas, when will this madness end? States like Texas, Utah, and Florida are already pushing back against DEI initiatives. However, with funding pouring into both red and blue states from institutions like the NIH, defeating the DEI hydra remains challenging. Texas, for instance, has banned DEI statements and offices at state universities, yet two universities have secured NIH FIRST grants and vow to promote DEI. The ensuing legal and legislative fights will be intriguing to watch.

As concerns and tensions around DEI continue to mount, spurred by revealing documents, investigations, and increasing pressure on colleges and universities to be accountable for their actions—or lack thereof—what will it take to vanquish the DEI beast? While we await that decisive moment, we remain steadfast in our commitment to uphold truth, excellence, and integrity in higher education. 

Until next week.

CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’ weekly newsletter, written by the NAS Staff. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.

Photo by Ousa Chea on Unsplash

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