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Martin Center column questions UNC spending on diversity training

Anthony Hennen of the Martin Center asks why the University of North Carolina spends money on diversity training that doesn’t appear to work.

Higher ed leaders love committees and training sessions. The technocratic mind that rules campus sees a problem and usually decides that the solution is more resources and education. Once the money is spent and the trainings, workshops, and seminars are completed, then the problem is solved.

Since the police killing of George Floyd, colleges have issued apologetic statements about institutional racism and made grand resolutions to become “anti-racist.” It seems that spending on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives will continue to rise as they have in recent years.

A Martin Center analysis has found that, at some of the largest UNC schools, money to outside organizations keeps flowing for diversity-related software and trainings.

In the past, colleges would hire diversity lecturers to give an hour-long speech here and there. Now, the trainings are more in-depth and expensive. North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, UNC-Wilmington, UNC-Greensboro, and East Carolina University have spent at least $276,090 since 2016 on third-party diversity programs, according to public records.

The question remains, however, of how much good they do. Diversity trainings may actually enhance politicization and racial bias on campus and teach moderate liberals and conservatives to keep their heads down—without benefiting minority students. The existing evidence on how effective diversity trainings are at reducing racism is not encouraging.

The largest spending has come from NC State: $129,800. In 2019, it signed a one-year contract with DiversityEDU for $15,800 for diversity training. Then, it committed to a $114,000, three-year contract with Everfi for student diversity training to cover 2020-2022.

UNC-Chapel Hill is close behind with $75,125 in third-party diversity contracts. The vast majority of them went to the Racial Equity Institute, an organization based in Greensboro that offers training to schools, businesses, and non-profit organizations.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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