Measuring the spread of DEI

Reprinted from the James J. Martin Center for Academic Renewal

An ongoing concern in my academic subfield of comparative politics is how to create concepts and measurements that stand up to scrutiny when applied to several situations. When we hear someone claim that politics in Country X is “corrupt,” our first questions are, “What do you mean by corruption?” and “compared to where?”

This interest in measuring things consistently and correctly has motivated me, in my advocacy role with the National Association of Scholars (NAS), to develop a method for measuring the spread of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” (DEI) ideology in colleges and universities. The often-heard complaint of a “takeover” of a particular enterprise by DEI raises the question of whether such takeover is the same and widespread in all places. Absolutely not, and if we can compare the worst affected with the least affected, perhaps there are lessons to be learned about the conditions that lead to the spread or capture of DEI.

Two weeks ago, the Oregon Society of Scientists, which I chair, released a diagnostic tool after consultations with my NAS colleagues. This tool depicts the concept of “DEI” as one of the Institutionalize of DEI ideology within a particular college or university. This includes, for example, DEI-based policies and practices, mandatory DEI-based training and litmus exams, and DEI-based funding models.

The new diagnostic tool does not measure the popularity of DEI ideology on campus or the prevalence of DEI-based courses and programs, both of which may rise and fall under normal conditions of free thought. Rather, it measures the extent to which DEI ideology confers a stable status that imposes it on all members of the campus community and insulates it from criticism and deflation.

The Diagnostic Tool measures DEI across four areas: administration, faculty, student affairs, and library. Of the 36 items, 15 relate to administration, 11 to college, and five each to students and library. Elements include whether the university maintains “bias response teams,” whether faculty members must submit “diversity data” to receive promotion, whether students must pass “diversity courses” to graduate, and whether the library trains students. on how to cite research in a way designed to enhance citations to groups of alleged victims. Each item is measured on a scale of 0 to 1, from ‘not at all’ to ‘completely present’.

We also released a fillable scorecard that automatically aggregates scores across all 36 items, as well as a four-stage model of DEI prevalence that simulates disease-stage charts often used by clinicians. We are, after all, trying to heal higher education, and I don’t apologize for direct comparison between DEI and cancer. The degeneration of DEI’s search for truth and the powerful competition of ideas is similar to the way cancer spreads from one part of the body to another and ultimately kills it. Knowing if a cancer is curable requires that we have some way of measuring its spread and regression.

The release of this diagnostic tool is the first step in a difficult task. As anyone who has worked on measuring social concepts knows, it takes a lot of practice and development of coding protocols before these types of measurements are valid enough (in fact they measure DEI prevalence) and reliable enough (not spread by skin through random factors) To be used as a solid basis for comparison. Next month, we will introduce a collaborative sharing site where researchers who use the tool can share ideas about its use.

Some critics who agree that DEI is a threat, however, resent the hard-line language I used in our press release, writing, “DEI’s ideology is now deeply ingrained in most colleges and universities across the country, but the public needs measurable ways to draw its spread and planning to defeat it.” I guess these friendly critics haven’t had a good time at a college or university lately. In fact, our diagnostic tool fails to anticipate every form of DEI-related corruption that can occur. On August 30, one day after the tool was released, two education professors wrote Within higher education That universities should plan to end potential future bans on affirmative action by requiring undergraduate applicants to provide “diversity data” of the kind already required for many faculty and staff positions. They wrote that “universities committed to racial justice ideals may back off, by requiring students to include in their application a statement regarding their commitments to racial justice… [Universities] A commitment to racial justice can be seen as part of the overall admission process.”

No one in the collaborative planning group had any idea that universities would consider such a blatant political test of students. But this only shows how bad the problem is from what we initially realized, despite the fact that many of our members (including myself) work in these environments and have seen such tests applied to all kinds of managerial decisions and other employees. (On a personal note, my university attempted to ban my studies in conservative political thought on the grounds that it had failed to achieve the DEI goals.)

It’s an old saying of management that you can’t improve or fix what you don’t measure. The diagnosis is the first attempt to establish a simple method to measure the scourge of DEI ideology in American higher education. We hope that a thousand flowers will bloom as people take in the tool themselves and as a common coding approach appears across the sharing site.

Time is of the essence. One ironic aspect of our diagnostic tool is that it embodies all the values ​​of logic, empiricism, and the scientific method toward which DEI’s agenda has become so hostile. Common standards of justification and inquiry, often denounced by DEI experts, are precisely the kind of truth-seeking values ​​that will become more difficult to confirm, and less resonant on campus, as DEI spreads.

Returning to the cancer analogy, DEI is a particularly aggressive form of cancer that can be passed from patient to doctor, thus rendering the doctor unable to cure the disease or cure itself (sorry, “zirself”). In this sense, the DEI Diagnostic Tool will play a dual role: graph and measure the prevalence of DEI on campus in a way that allows us to make comparisons and treat the disease And the Providing a model and example of what it means to adhere to the values ​​of the Western Enlightenment in an age when the idea of ​​truth is agonizingly malignant. If we don’t act, it will eventually kill the patient completely.

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Bruce Gilly is a professor of political science at Portland State University and a board member of the National Association of Scholars.

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