Diversity “Training” Coming to VMI

by James A. Bacon

In the waning days of the Northam administration, the Virginia Military Institute has issued a Request for Proposal for “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Consultation and Training.” The due date for submitting proposals is December 14. The period of the contract will extend from the date of the award through June 30, 2023.

The services solicited in the RFP include:

  • DEI training that includes “guidelines, cultural sharing, … bias intervention programs, and DEI language that best fits the VMI community.”
  • Opportunities for individuals to “embrace DEI concepts, explore allyship, and a framework for lifelong learning.”
  • Discussions of cultural and identity oppression in the context of current culture as it relates to VMI.
  • Design and execution of an “organizational DEI cultural assessment” while “understanding the VMI philosophy.”
  • Ongoing DEI support within the ranks of Institute executives.

View the full RFP here.

An addendum explains that the contract should be viewed in the context of the Inclusive Excellence Plan adopted by Superintendent Cedric Wins and the Board of Visitors in response to allegations of systemic racism enumerated by the Barnes & Thornburg investigation. That investigation was ordered by Governor Ralph Northam after a series of Washington Post articles alleging systemic racism at the military academy.

Key goals of the Inclusive Excellence Plan are to achieve a more “diverse and inclusive” student body, faculty, staff and administration and to create an environment that “affirms and respects diversity and employs inclusive practices throughout its daily operations.”

The contractor is expected to provide “coaching” to “confront bias” primarily for VMI executives and the Board of Visitors but also “with limited coaching for Inclusive Excellence Committee, and DE&I advocates and allies.”

An RFP addendum appears to apply a left-wing frame of reference known as “intersectionality” of race, sex, and gender with the following language: “Understand and respect the intersecting identities, customs, traditions, and cultural norms within the local community, nationally, and abroad. Awareness of the assumptions and biases I hold about people of different cultures than one’s own. Engage with others to gain a broader perspective of the social environments of their lives.”

Bacon’s bottom line: Have fun with this one, Mr. Youngkin!