The Making of a Bureaucracy: Ohio State's DEI Regime

Marina Ziemnick

Let’s talk about Ohio State’s big loss. No, I’m not referring to the 27-42 defeat the OSU Buckeyes suffered at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines over Thanksgiving weekend (Go Blue). I’m talking about the 13.4 million dollars that Ohio State University loses each year to maintain its 132 “diversicrats.”

Yes, you did read that correctly. Economist Mark J. Perry (coincidentally an emeritus professor at the University of Michigan) released a chart yesterday that lists every DEI bureaucrat at the Ohio State University, ranked by salary, and calculates the total compensation allotted to these employees for the 2021-22 academic year—a grand figure of $13,405,605 [see chart below]. Nearly 30 of the listed employees make more than six figures, and the average salary is around $77,000. The employees work for an array of different initiatives, including such notables as “Diversity and Inclusion,” “Diversity, Inclusion and Outreach,” “Equity and Inclusion,” and “Institutional Equity.” There are around 20 employees who share the title of “Program Coordinator, Diversity and Inclusion,” and another 12 who are “Program Managers” of the same (not to be confused with the Program Manager of Equity and Inclusion).

Perhaps some of these positions make important contributions to Ohio State’s campus. The ADA Coordinator, for instance, undoubtedly plays a key role in ensuring that students with disabilities have the necessary accommodations to take advantage of educational opportunities. But the vast majority of these positions appear vague and redundant (to put it generously). A quick glance at the OSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s website shows the fruit of these employees’ labor, highlighting events such as a lecture on how “caste plagues American society” and a virtual presentation explaining how “sports mascots can perpetuate ‘harmful representations’ of marginalized groups.”

Devoting an exorbitant amount of resources to bloated administrative departments is not only wasteful: it actively hurts students. Perry hinted at this when he shared the $13.4 million number, noting that the amount would “cover in-state tuition for 1,120 students.” However, the problem goes even deeper than Perry suggested. Yes, the 13.4 million dollars could be better used as scholarship funds for high-achieving students from low-income families. But this unnecessary budget item is more than a lost opportunity—it contributes to increased tuition costs for all students. In Priced Out: What College Costs America, NAS Research Associate Neetu Arnold outlined how widespread administrative bloat in higher education has contributed to the ever-worsening student debt crisis. And if the last few years are any indicator, it is unlikely that Ohio State University will reverse course on these financially destructive initiatives anytime soon. DEI offices are more prone to expanding than shrinking—especially when they’re outfitted with a pipeline to taxpayer dollars.

The harm done to universities by ever-expanding DEI offices is more than just financial. In many cases, DEI initiatives actively undermine the core function of the university: the search for truth. Professors Elizabeth Corey and Jeff Polet highlighted DEI trainings as an example of this in an article for the Chronicle on Higher Education:

[DEI trainings] aim at ends that are not only tendentious but even contrary to one of the chief ends of the university itself, which is the pursuit of truth. The problem is that “training” tends to assume that the truth is already known. It claims expert knowledge of truths about such complex and abstract things as “justice” and “race” and “gender.” But when these “truths” are, in fact, a matter of reasonable disagreement and current political contestation, the trainings become indoctrinations . . . Training stipulates the truth of its goal, and thus operates outside the proper authority and function of academic life itself. Educators take nothing to be self evident; trainers take everything to be so.

Promoting diversity of thought on college campuses is a noble goal that, when rightly pursued, connects directly to the search for truth and the cultivation of intellectual curiosity. Unfortunately, most DEI initiatives treat diversity of thought as a minor concern at best—and a racist dog whistle at worst. Rather than encouraging dialogue, these programs often signal to students that only people with certain viewpoints or characteristics are welcome on campus.

If Ohio State University plans to keep marketing itself as an institution of higher learning, it must bring an end to the DEI oligarchy and refocus its efforts on education over indoctrination.

Mark J. PerryCarpe Diem AEI.

Marina Ziemnick is a Communications Associate at the National Association of Scholars.

Image: Minh Nguyen, Public Domain

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