by James C. Sherlock
We are left to imagine what Dean of the University of Virginia School of Education and Human Development Stephanie Rowley would possibly do without the assistance of LaRon Scott, her Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).
How in heaven’s name without Mr. Scott could she keep reactionaries like Catherine Bradshaw, Nancy Deutsch, Scott Gest and Stephanie van Hover and the Center on Race, Public Education, and the South and Youth-Nex Center to Promote Youth Development from preaching white supremacist doctrine and organizing torchlit marches on NAACP offices?
I am not singling out UVa for special criticism. I just know a lot more of the details about my alma mater than other schools. Virginia Tech reportedly has a very aggressive program.
Virginia has 41 public colleges and universities, so we are paying for a lot of DEI personnel. UVa alone has 84 DEI staffers. Let’s estimate 1,000 statewide.
The point is that we have to try to figure out why modern American universities in 2021 suddenly needed large and growing DEI bureaucracies. And what they do all day?
And if we need them, how many is enough?
The left had won the war in academia before DEI. It would be unkind to think the DEI apparatchiks are formed as a paramilitary wing to execute enemy survivors.
So, if not that, what do they do?
The left had taken effective control of institutions of higher learning long before the shooting of George Floyd inspired a sudden need for DEI bureaucracies on campus.
Even The New York Times admitted in October of 2021:
As they’ve grown in numbers, college graduates have instilled increasingly liberal cultural norms while gaining the power to nudge the Democratic Party to the left.
University President James Ryan, Executive Vice President and Provost Ian Baucom, University Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer John Kosky are not noted for non-diverse, anti-inclusive thinking.
The position of Vice Provost for Enrollment was established in 2020 “to strengthen the excellence, diversity, success, and sense of community of the student body.”
The University, and indeed all colleges, already had an Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights as required by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, the Governor’s Executive Order Number One (2018), and other applicable statutes and University policies.
So why a new, 84-person DEI establishment at UVa? Why did suddenly every Department need an Associate Dean for DEI? Some two.
Why, for example, does the threat assessment team need a DEI member? What does that official do, sitting beside the Chief of Police in threat assessments?
What these new employees actually do is apparently up to them… and dangerous to free speech and the conduct of regular business at the university.
Associate Dean Scott. Seven of the 12 new hires in the School of Education and Human development announced with Mr. Scott were persons of color. So, it seems diversity was already in good hands.
Mr. Scott’s DEI job description:
He is responsible for developing and implementing a framework for DEI in the school. This includes developing systems that increase equity for students, faculty, and staff; raising the visibility and recognition of DEI-related work across the school; developing DEI programming stemming from the office of DEI or in partnership with other units; and connecting with relevant partners across Grounds.
By saying nothing that can be objectively measured, that job description is as wide open and as devoid of standards as is imaginable.
So, what does an Associate Dean of DEI actually do?
For one, Mr. Scott gave the notorious Bettina Love, who has advocated a return to segregated schools, another of what seem to be her annual appearances at that school by inviting her to deliver on March 2 the 2023 Walter N. Ridley Distinguished Lecture at the UVA School of Education and Human Development.
Ms. Love, in her 2019 book, forcefully regretted that:
Among low income youth in the study, 91% believed in the “American dream.” While holding system-justifying beliefs, these young people lacked the skills to interpret their world, which, sadly, is filled with intersectional, systemic oppression.
She thus insisted that Black kids and their parents are ignorant.
And she asserted that Black K-12 students need to be in segregated schools. As I wrote in my review of her book:
Ms. Love’s black schools will be taught by black teachers with pedagogy reflecting black values (she assumes hers are universal black values) but does not define the curriculum. The only things she dictates is [sic] that there will be no standardized testing, not a hint of modern school reform methods and that the curriculum will reflect (her) community values and result in what she calls a “homeplace” for African American children.
That is what passes for inclusive for Ms. Love. Before George Floyd. It now apparently passes for inclusive at UVa.
The ed school has among its student organizations a Critical Whiteness Study Group, an Out and Allied Educators group, SEEDS for Change, and a Student VEA group to get ahead of the crowd in the union.
The Memorial to Enslaved Laborers was completed in 2020 after five years of work. Before there was a DEI department.
What UVa did not have, before the DEI bureaucracy, was a corps of designated speech and thought police.
Public voices of conservative thought, much less right wing thought, in the ed school before Mr. Scott arrived were rarer than hens’ teeth.
So, what, exactly, does the appointment of Mr. Scott change?
He has carte blanche and a big salary, so we’ll see what he does after Bettina Love’s latest visit.
Bottom line. DEI is a very costly jobs program carved out for progressives to oversee employees who are largely other progressives, including minorities, with real jobs. It appears designed to extinguish any remaining hint of centrist or conservative thought.
Because their job descriptions are fatuous, DEI apparatchiks — let’s call them redshirts — can take their authority to any extreme they wish. And have.
And will continue to do so until disbanded.
So, UVa, say hello to Bettina Love.
The very presence of DEI officials on campus is a disgrace that rises to the level of a scandal.
So why, Boards of Visitors, are they permitted to keep their jobs?
Updated Mar 22 at 09:20 to add spreadsheet link to Virginia Public Colleges and Universities.