The Diversity Grift

Kali Jerrard

CounterCurrent: Week of 11/27/2023


Yet again, John D. Sailer has unearthed a trove of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies at a major university, putting the institution’s ideological biases under public scrutiny.

As I mentioned in last week’s CounterCurrent, Sailer published an article with the Wall Street Journal exposing Ohio State University’s (OSU) “DEI Factory.” By closely examining over 800 pages of  “Diversity Faculty Recruitment Reports” obtained through public records requests, Sailer found that OSU hiring committees engaged in blatant racial discrimination against faculty candidates for multiple positions.

It all began in February 2021, with then-president Kristina Johnson’s initiative to “hire 50 professors whose work focused on race and ‘social equity’ and ‘100 underrepresented and BIPOC hires’ (the acronym stands for black, indigenous and people of color).” Subsequently, hiring search committees were formed, diversity recruitment reports were made, and DEI rubrics were established. 

Each OSU recruitment report acquired by Sailer is similarly steeped in race-based language and ideology. All reports “required search committees to describe how their proposed finalists ‘would amplify the values of diversity, inclusion and innovation,’” but each was nuanced as far as tone and application. Search committees sought candidates for positions that varied from science and history, to music, design, and more. For context, here’s one example of an OSU search committee’s hiring process:

One faculty position advertised last year was in French and francophone studies with a ‘specialization in Black France.’ It yielded a more racially diverse but still majority-white applicant pool. The committee was adamant about its intended outcome. ‘In our deliberations to select finalists, the importance of bringing Black scholars to campus was deemed to be essential. We thus chose three Black candidates.’  It added: ‘We decided as a committee that diversity was just as important as perceived merit as we made our selections.’

This example is just one of the egregious DEI rubrics used by OSU search committees—each rubric more ludicrous than the last. Some candidates were reviewed for a faculty position based 67 percent on research and 33 percent on their contributions to DEI. Other candidates received an automatic score of zero if he or she “solely acknowledges that racism, classism, etc. are issues in the academy.” Though a university spokesperson informed Sailer that OSU updated their hiring practices in April, it’s doubtful that deeply entrenched biases are so quickly forgotten by administrators and hiring committees. 

As more and more colleges and universities cast aside academic freedom and scholarly excellence to obtain diversity points, action is becoming necessary to right academia’s course. Such action must be in the form of internal accountability through internal leadership, or through legislation.  

Senate Bill 83 before the Ohio legislature would curb the (ab)use of DEI or any racial or ideological litmus test in university admissions and hiring,” says George W. Dent, Jr. in a response article to Sailer’s findings at OSU. Dent continues in another article, “SB 83 forbids the use of diversity statements. For this alone it deserves passage.” We’ve talked about Senate Bill 83 (SB 83) before, when it was introduced back in March of this year. Here’s a refresher on one of the major changes this bill would make: “SB 83 would prohibit state-funded colleges and universities from requiring diversity statements for promotion, hire, and admissions, and would ban DEI concepts in classrooms and on campus.” SB 83 has been passed by the Ohio Senate and is currently with the Ohio House of Representatives. 

The first step toward restoring academic freedom and excellence is to depoliticize the university, and legislation like SB 83 might be the answer for colleges and universities around the country. Until then, we’ll continue to expose the dark underbelly of higher education and shed light on the policies and practices that derail academia from the pursuit of freedom and excellence.

Until next week.

(To find out more about Sailer’s work exposing OSU’s “DEI Factory,” read more here, here, and here).


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

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