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Martin Center column critiques UNC governing boards

Jay Schalin of the Martin Center accuses UNC System governing boards of “fiddling while reason burns.”

The “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” (DEI) paradigm is sweeping through academia. Its increasing use as an ethical basis for enacting university policies is no small matter. Rather, it is monumental: it signals a major change in academia’s underlying belief system from the open-minded pursuit of truth to a narrow, dogmatic, political fundamentalism.

This is a transition no less revolutionary than the philosophical shift that occurred in the 19th century, when the traditional Christian intellectual framework was pushed aside for the more “objective” measure of the scientific method.

Unlike that earlier transition which advanced academic freedom even though it unmoored our colleges from valuable traditions, it is hard to see how the current one brings anything of value to our universities—or to our society.

Implementing the DEI agenda enfranchises a collectivist, racialized political theory that goes against almost everything our nation has long stood for. …

… The legislature can make the law stronger, and, even according to the law as it is currently written, UNC’s governing boards can take action to prevent the spread of DEI mandates. But neither legislators nor boards have shown any great sense of urgency to address the problem.

That reluctance to look out for the interests of the majority of North Carolinians raises some very basic questions. Why are the boards not up in arms when a disturbing political litmus test is imposed on the institutions they are sworn to defend? What human incentives are behind their inactivity: confusion, ignorance, cowardice, or corruption? Do they hold the rest of us in contempt and take us for fools?

Or do they really not understand the importance of their mission and of the specific issues at hand? One reason why public university board members are so passive may be that politicians deliberately select those who are least likely to deal aggressively with fundamental issues.

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...