Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

January 19, 2024

DEI by the Frayed Wire Part II

"A Message for the Academics Who Actually Do Care...If You Exist"

by The Frayed Wire

Last month, I wrote an article that resulted in Michigan Tech's blog post on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) being taken down.

Victory, right?

Nope, not so much, and I'll elaborate.

I do appreciate those that have publicly expressed support for the article, and even wrote letters to Audra Morse, the engineering dean. Morse is someone trying to spark a "coursework revolution" on campus which, quite frankly, sounds terrible given other "revolutions" we've seen in academic institutions recently.

These "coursework revolutions" include those at Stanford where the bulk of students now receive A's. This makes it impossible to gauge students' success and demonstrates the death of meritocracy at one of our elite institutions. Others have followed suit.

Although I hope Michigan Tech somehow avoids this direction, based on my experience, they tend to look to other universities and duplicate behavior when it comes to administrative matters.

They are free to do as they will, though, but will have to accept that there will be alumni and parents that will simply take their donations and students elsewhere.

I would encourage most parents thinking of sending their children to Michigan Tech to research the current trajectory of the school. Although it may still be the best school for you (and I agree it has its perks), there may be better options, depending on your values.

Regarding my previous article, the title: "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A Failing Grift by Malignant College Socialists and Privileged 'Liberals' Pretending to Care" was intentionally abrasive.

This is especially true for people like Morse who likely took personal offence if they only read the title. I broadly swiped at "privileged college liberals" and that objectively includes the dean of the engineering department making over $200,000 a year in a low cost of living area.

Although I was abrasive with my language, I wrote that way to draw attention to real issues that are important to many. In that article it was the blind implementation of cultural Marxism on college campuses, including Michigan Tech.

My message to her and others like her is that, if you truly think the comments didn't apply, then don't take offense. I was talking about specific types of people I've personally encountered and if you don't fit the bill, don't worry about the article too much.

The response of the school to take the post down, though, seems like it might have resonated a bit too closely for some people. But still, I disagree strongly with the outcome that the post was removed. This is censorship under public pressure, which is antithetical to a free society. This was not the point of my article.

The goal of my article was to highlight, for those at Michigan Tech, some current, controversial issues surrounding higher education and my rather fiery opinion on their sources. These issues also affect corporations and other critical institutions that have implemented recent DEI policies and training.

As I've said before, many organizations are now moving away from DEI due to negative effects on morale, productivity, and, ironically, team unity. This is because DEI principles often sort people into oppressor/oppressed groups, which invariably lead to divisions based on shallow identitarian suppositions.

This, as I pointed out in my original article, is the result of the Marxist dichotomy applied to social issues.

My previous article was based on information and opinions I've gathered in my life outside academic spheres. Despite me roasting the bad habits of some in those spheres, I don't judge people negatively for being in academia.

I only judge actions that are poorly thought-out and believe anyone is capable of those. As Forrest Gump taught us "Stupid is as Stupid does" and we can all be rather stupid sometimes.

Many in academia engage in important work, but due to the demands of such jobs, it is easy to become ignorant of the outside world. Unfortunately, some academics have been in their bubbles for decades... so it takes a more extreme approach to convince such people when you think they are wrong.

That being said, my previous article was written in the style of a "slap in the face" to wake people up and it seems to have worked based on informal feedback I've received from Jarek.

Some are a bit angry... which was expected, but also, in my opinion, necessary. I can handle what people throw at me but hope people can eventually look at the previous article as humorously as I do. The title itself is not only abrasive, but epic! That's what we, in the business, call "clickbait."

I'll try not to get too feisty in the future, but for now, I'm hoping to present a few insights on why institutions are currently under attack and possibly some solutions that Michigan Tech can use to achieve certain objectives.

First, in posting the DEI statement, Michigan Tech's administration made identical mistakes as those of other institutions that advocate blind adherence to Marxist DEI principles. This includes Harvard and their recent controversies surrounding the conduct and resignation of their president, Claudine Gay.

Events at Harvard and even those on Michigan Tech's campus have contributed to a poor public image for many universities in significant segments of the population. Unfortunately, these groups include blue collar families and many of Michigan Tech's other traditional recruits that have earned it the reputation of a "working" college.

Even prior to recent controversial events, Gallup polling from July 2023 revealed that only 36% have confidence in higher education meeting its mission... this is down from 57% in 2015. This is not a good trajectory and one that should be reversed where possible. I hope that Michigan Tech can break this trend and assert itself as an independent and innovative institution that appeals to those looking for a path forward in a complicated world.

Although several factors contribute to low institutional confidence, one major factor is that many families don't trust universities to teach effectively when ideological homogeneity is recklessly enforced. This is now done frequently through DEI training and related courses required within first year curricula at Michigan Tech and other schools.

I have spoken to several who have diverted their children away from Michigan Tech's college AND summer youth programs based on perceived Marxist indoctrination on campuses and enforcement of its tenants through required DEI-based coursework. I often try to convince them otherwise, and that Michigan Tech is "one of the good ones still" but skilled trade schools also look more appealing due to lower debt.

Despite all this, it IS the right of those at Michigan Tech to express themselves and form policies as they wish. My article was strongly worded, but I never said I wanted the post taken down via external pressure. That's what "cancel culture" is about and I am sick of that. We all should be.

I would have preferred Kim Geiger and the administration to write a rebuttal or other statement explaining WHY they feel the way they did. That way we all can have an honest discussion and understand each other's motivations. I don't believe your complete intellectual stance on the topic of DEI was represented by the post that was released. That's why I ribbed you so much and have been looking for some response.

The desire to listen to the opinions of others, despite disagreement, is the actual "collegiate spirit" I learned at Michigan Tech. This spirit is supposed to be prevalent on college campuses in general, but this seems to be dwindling. This is evident from the fact that, according to a Campus Pulse-Fire survey, only 52% of Michigan Tech students believe it is wrong to shout down speakers that you disagree with.

That number should be higher... but it was the highest in the country. This is very depressing. The number was only 30% at Harvard, though.

So... what about the societal issues that DEI is supposed to address? If we are sacrificing public image and traditional strengths for social justice, that is worthwhile, right?

Well, many of the issues that DEI advocates seek to address through social engineering are, in fact, real.

Yes, there are wealth disparities prevalent in African American communities.

Yes, women are often discriminated against in the workplace.

Yes, there's social stigma tied to different lifestyles.

But will engineering attitudes and outcomes "from above" ever fix these problems?

With regards to "engineering attitudes", people have free will, so you can never crush all opinions you find "uncouth." The only thing you can do is try to enforce dogmatic philosophy and doing so will always cause pushback and division in a free country.

There are reasons we have freedom of religion in this country. Michigan Tech and others border on enforcing a secular religion on campuses through tenants of DEI. This is the illiberal part of DEI that has most traditional liberals in this country at arms against it.

This includes figures like Bill Maher, James Lindsay, and others. They are NOT conservative, but they refuse to cow tow to "progressives" that long ago lost the message on liberalism.

In terms of engineering outcomes, in promoting social engineering, those in DEI often claim that they have "an equally qualified pool" of applicants to choose from and then "balance historic injustices" by favoring different groups based on that supposition.

Those of a more meritocratic mindset believe there's always a top candidate, so the assumption about the "equally qualified pool" is flawed.

These two philosophies butt against each other, but in the end both leave core issues and disparities unaddressed.

Issues of wealth and disparity that people face cannot be solved by University admissions policies and coursework... pretending they can is objectively narcissistic. People from poor areas that go to college don't generally go back and develop the areas they came from. A few do, though, and I sincerely respect them regardless of our disagreements.

Instead, IF WE ACTUALLY CARE, we should focus on more direct routes toward DEVELOPMENT in poor communities. This isn't just my opinion. It is shared by a growing number of people committed to real change.

Please read a statement from Pastor Corey Brooks from Project H.O.O.D. below reproduced here from X (formerly Twitter).

Project H.O.O.D. is an organization that helps many in Chicago to achieve real personal change through recidivism reduction programs, job training, and counseling. For context this statement was originally about Marc Cuban's support of DEI efforts and around the time of the ouster of Claudine Gay as President of Harvard.

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1744782233687470514.html

My recommendation from the previous article to "End DEI" did not mean that we fire all the staff and personnel that are working in DEI departments at Michigan Tech. That would be cruel treatment of some potentially well-intended people.

I believe some are motivated by "the right things" and not just overly academicized Marxism. My actual recommendation is to refocus their efforts on things that matter and stop repeating the same mistakes over and over.

My advice to those at Michigan Tech is to do more direct outreach and, as Pastor Brooks says, focus on development of communities instead of objectively terrible "race" metrics that often do not address problems. There are likely many existing programs at Michigan Tech that can be redirected toward community development, instead of brain drain.

If anywhere can buck the trends and demonstrate there are academics that DO care, it is Michigan Tech.

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