The Claremont Institute recently published a new study showing how unsuccessful diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policy and programs at the University of Alabama and Auburn University have been. The study concludes those efforts are falling flat and could be negatively impacting the quality of education.

Dr. Scott Yenor, the senior director of State Coalitions at the Claremont Institute, conducted the research and concluded the two schools spend a combined $5 million or more on diversity programs that are not yielding obvious results.

“Academics and administrators are no longer merely pushing progressive politics but are transforming universities into institutions dedicated to political activism and indoctrinating students into DEI ideology,” he stated in the introduction to the study.

University of Alabama

The study found that at the University of Alabama, DEI concerns began in 2008 with the development of the Strategic Diversity Plan. Within the plan, the following goals were set:

  • Commit the university to better communicate its commitment to diversity as part of its educational mission;

  • Create and sustain an inviting, respectful and inclusive campus environment;

  • Increase diversity within the faculty and senior level administration and the student body; and

  • Annually review goals and assess effectiveness of the action steps and initiatives in enhancing diversity within the university’s educational mission.

Since 2008, UA has unveiled the “Advancing the Flagship” strategic plan, emphasizing DEI and hired G. Christine Taylor as vice president and associate provost for DEI. Taylor currently makes $298,047.12 a year in those positions. President Stuart Bell has also convened a presidential advisory committee on DEI.

In 2020, the school opened the Intercultural Diversity Center and just last year unveiled the second phase of the “Advancing the Flagship” strategic plan.

The study concluded that UA has special programs for prospective minority students, summer programs for underrepresented minorities and has established a task force on the study of slavery, race and civil rights. Buildings have been renamed and in 2021, there were 31 dedicated DEI personnel on staff.

Of the nine colleges at the University of Alabama, six have designated DEI deans.

“Most importantly, though, every college is executing on the University of Alabama’s commitment to DEI,” Yenor stated. “From renaming buildings in the College of Education to implementing summer programs for underrepresented minorities in the College of Business to the School of Social Work’s summit on anti-racism, colleges are infusing DEI ideology into the normal execution of their duties. The College of Communication & Information Sciences hopes to ‘integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout curricula, programming, and recruiting.”

Other examples of DEI programs are the Athletics Department’s “Crimson Pride” and its promotion of  “LBGTQIA+” resources and events, such as “Cinnamon Rolls, Not Gender Roles” and its national “Safe to Pee” initiative to combat “discrimination against gender variant people in public restrooms.” UA also has a Hate & Bias Hotline where people can anonymously make reports.

With all of those resources being spent to increase the number of minority students on campus, Yenor said DEI efforts are falling flat.

“DEI efforts on student recruitment have not led to increases in the percentages of black students,” the study states. “In 2011, 12.43% of Alabama students were black; 78.07% white; and 2.49% Hispanic. In 2016, 10.77% were black; 76.54% were white; and 4.2% were Hispanic. In 2021 (the last year where there are good numbers), those percentages were 11.16, 74.37, and 5.32 respectively.12 DEI efforts on faculty recruitment and retention have been slightly less unavailing. In 2011, 5.18% of Alabama faculty were black; 85.06% white; and 1.81% Hispanic. In 2016, 6.32% were black; 77.44% were white; and 2.12% were Hispanic. In 2021, those percentages were 7.60, 77.09, and 2.47 respectively.”

Auburn University

At Auburn University, a “Climate Survey” in 2015 led to the integration of recommendations into the school’s strategic plan. AU adopted recruitment policies to include bias training and diversity certifications for faculty candidates. In 2016, Taffye Benson Clayton was named the first associate provost and vice president for inclusion and diversity. Clayton makes $275,990.04 annually.

Buildings at Auburn have been renamed and the school has a Presidential Task Force for Opportunity and Equity, the study found. That task force focuses on DEI education and minority recruitment and retention.

“After the strategic plan was in place, President [Jay] Gouge organized a Presidential Task Force for Opportunity and Equity to emphasize two sets of recommendations for new initiatives,” the study states. “The Task Force (TF) was organized in June 2020, at the height of the hysteria over the death of George Floyd. It aimed to make recommendations about (1) DEI education and (2) recruitment of minority students, faculty, and staff.”

This year, President Christopher B. Roberts formed a DEI advisory committee.

Auburn has 20 full-time staff dedicated to DEI efforts. It is unclear how many student workers or graduate assistants are in place.

“All colleges send representatives to the Chief Diversity Leaders Roundtable,” Yenor added. “Three colleges—the College of Liberal Arts, the Harrison College of Pharmacy, and the College of Science and Mathematics—have administrators specially dedicated to DEI. At least five colleges have active DEI committees, variously named. These include the College of Education, the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts, the Harrison College of Pharmacy, and the College of Science and Mathematics.”

The percentage of black students at Auburn has declined from 8.17% in 2006 to 4.91% in 2022.

“Black enrollment has actually shrunk since at least 2010, both as a percentage of the student body and in absolute numbers,” according to the study. “DEI efforts may, it appears, have deterred prospective black students from applying to Auburn. Although the decline in absolute numbers of black students was first visible between 2010 and 2014, the decrease between 2014 and 2018 was more rapid; it was steeper still between 2018 and 2022. The more aggressive Auburn’s DEI recruitment efforts have been, the fewer black students attend.”

Auburn also has an anonymous reporting system for those who feel they have experienced bias or hate. Those reports are handed over to the Bias Education and Response Team (BERT), a “committee of staff and faculty co-chaired by the ‘Director of Diversity Education and Engagement.”

Other programs include the Cross-Cultural Center for Excellence (CCCE), Diversity Education, and Inclusive Excellence Programming Grants.

Auburn University has also updated its pronoun banner within the finance and registration system so that students, faculty and staff are able to change their preferred pronouns.

RELATED: Diversity dollars: Who are the highest paid DEI admin at Alabama’s three largest public universities?

In conclusion, Yenor found little evidence that DEI efforts are successful at Auburn and Alabama. Furthermore, he believes the efforts could be overshadowing quality education.

“The University of Alabama has dropped requirements for SATs or ACTs in its honors college,” Yenor said. “Its overall ranking has fallen. Many of its courses are infused with DEI. This should concern lawmakers and citizens alike. Neither of these universities is too far gone. Both could be improved through intelligent oversight and management.”

The entire study is available below.

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