DEI vs. USD
This article was co-authored with Linda Sweeney and originally published on October 4, 2021 by The American Mind. Linda Sweeney is president and founder of Alumni and Donors Unite.
The woke blob swallows the University of San Diego.
Many conservative parents looking for moderately traditional college options for their children seek schools that are under the protective cover of a church. The University of San Diego (USD), a Catholic school with a law school not unfriendly to conservatives, may once have been such a safe haven, but no longer. Under President James Harris, the school has undergone a kind of hostile takeover by the forces of wokeness. The story of what happened to USD provides a cautionary tale to parents, donors, and students trying to outrun the spread of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” (DEI), as detailed in a new report entitled “The Woke Takeover at University of San Diego.”
Until the George Floyd-BLM riots, USD had standard-fare diversity classes and diversity committees. Then, in Fall 2020, Harris and Provost Gail Baker established an Anti-Racism Task Force (ARTF), which established four sub-committees: Anti-Racism Training; Policies related to Acts of Intolerance and Acts of Hate; Faculty Recruitment, Hiring & Retention; and Student Recruitment and Retention. Its 28-page report, containing 41 recommendations, was released in December 2020.
Among its recommendations were “annual mandatory campus-wise antiracism training.” This training was necessary, according to ARTF, because, “students, faculty, and staff are experiencing acts of intolerance and hate.” However, the University of San Diego reported no hate crimes in 2017 or 2018, according to its own mandatory Clery Act reporting, and no civil rights violations, either. The ARTF’s report never bothers trying to justify its claim.
ARTF also recommends trainings on DEI themes such as, “Intersectionality, Power, and Privilege,” “The Problem of Colorblind Racism,” and “Catholicism and Antiracism” to solve the non-problem. Student codes of conduct were to be revised to bar “acts of hate.” Examples of such hateful acts include saying things like, “Asians tend to do better on standardized tests,” because such words feed into “a history of vilifying, humiliating or expressing hatred against members of a group.”
Most of ARTF’s suggestions made their way into policy under the The Horizon Project, which Harris, without providing attribution to Mao, has called “a giant leap forward.” The Horizon Project will have oversight of training, student orientation, policy revisions, aggressive affirmative action, and other features of the new DEI regime. Students and faculty will take continuing training in anti-bias, implicit bias, and allyship. Student perceptions of anti-bias would be worked into evaluations of faculty, and new job postings, as from USD’s philosophy department, would have diversity statements.
Every element of the student experience is to be oriented toward DEI indoctrination. Test scores will no longer be consulted for admissions, since they discriminate among students. Instead, grade point averages and answers to personal insight questions determine admissions. Before accepted students even get to campus, their orientation in DEI begins with “Torero Circles,” an online training for incoming students. The first week of Circles concerns “diversity, inclusion and community” through a course designed around “key concepts” like “identity, bias, power, privilege, and oppression, to understand the benefits of a diverse community, and to develop skills related to ally behavior, self-care, and creating inclusive spaces.” Later weeks concern academic success.
Students get another dose DEI in August after their arrival on campus, where they celebrate “Diversity, Inclusion, Social Justice & Changemaking Day.” Students engage in dialogue about the urgent challenges of institutional racism in our day. Student orientation, captured in part in this video, pushes white students to acknowledge their unearned privilege as it points to a “white racial identity.”
Students are directed to “living-learning communities” (LLC) for required classes after orientation. LLCs point students to leftist community activism with courses like “Introduction to Changemaking,” “Writing as a Form of Advocacy,” and “Introduction to Ethnic Studies.” USD’s general education requirements have doubled the number of explicitly-dedicated DEI credits needed for graduation under Harris.
USD incentivizes faculty to participate in the transformation of the university. Many willingly follow, but a majority sit bewildered on the sidelines. USD’s Center for Educational Excellence gives faculty stipends for participating in courses around “anti-bias” and anti-racism topics, even though the university itself is in a budget crunch.
All of this is the direct result of administrative decisions. Harris has hired Regina Dixon-Reeves, a permanent Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, to implement and expand its mission.
College-level deans and department-level diversity plans are the next stage in the DEI revolution at USD. The School of Engineering’s “Statement of Mission, Vision, and Values” adopts every element of Critical Social Justice ideology, acknowledging “the privileged point of view and existence in which we live” and how “engineering historically has not been an inclusive space.” It strives to “dismantle the myth of meritocracy in the United States and in the engineering discipline.” It is disappointing, but ultimately immaterial, for literature departments to be dominated by such balderdash. But one would hope that the meritocratic principle would contain to be upheld in a department that trains our future bridge and structure builders.
Perhaps most troubling for the long-term viability of USD is how the Horizon Project aims to transform the Board of Trustees. New Trustees are being carefully vetted for fealty to DEI ideology. Thus the system itself is impervious to reform from normal levers.
Whatever remained of USD’s Catholic mission, or even its commitment to the liberal arts, is now displaced by its DEI mission. USD is in decent financial shape, according to Forbes. But that can change as quickly as the university’s mission if donors, alumni and parents unite to effect change. Alumni and Donors Unite is acting to push against this corruption of the academy’s core values.