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From: Eric Kelderman
Subject: Race on Campus: College DEI Efforts Are Widespread, Poorly Funded, and Ineffective
Welcome to Race on Campus. Lawmakers in several states are considering measures to restrict spending on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at public colleges, including cultural and academic programs to support underrepresented students, curriculum that reflects a diverse society, measures to recruit and retain more faculty of color, and the administrators hired to oversee all of this. But how many colleges are actually working on these efforts, and how effective are they? A recent study, our reporter Eric Kelderman writes, offers clues. If you have ideas, comments, or questions about this newsletter, write to me:
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Welcome to Race on Campus. Lawmakers in several states are considering measures to restrict spending on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at public colleges, including cultural and academic programs to support underrepresented students, curriculum that reflects a diverse society, measures to recruit and retain more faculty of color, and the administrators hired to oversee all of this. But how many colleges are actually working on these efforts, and how effective are they? A recent study, our reporter Eric Kelderman writes, offers clues. If you have ideas, comments, or questions about this newsletter, write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many say they support DEI. Far fewer are meeting their goals.
An informal group of academics who call themselves Next Generation Assessment conducted a survey to find out what colleges are doing to support DEI efforts. Their findings also offer a measure of how well administrators think these efforts are working.
The survey included responses from 118 colleges, 86 percent of which were four-year public or private colleges. The remaining 14 percent were two-year colleges. Nearly half of all colleges surveyed qualified as minority-serving institutions.
Lots of colleges say they support diversity, equity, and inclusion, the study found: Nearly three-quarters of the colleges responded that their mission statement “explicitly supports diversity, equity, and/or inclusion.”
But only a fifth of respondents said their colleges were making expected progress toward meeting their DEI goals, according to the survey.
Change comes slowly in higher education, Tammie Cumming, one of the founders of Next Generation Assessment, wrote in an email to The Chronicle, but colleges need to focus on the gap in graduation rates between Black and Hispanic students and their white and Asian peers.
The six-year graduation rate for Asian students is 74 percent, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, and 64 percent for white students. For Hispanic students, that figure is 54 percent, and for Black students, 40 percent.
Not every DEI office is the same.
About 90 percent of the respondents indicated they have an office dedicated to DEI measures, the survey’s authors told The Chronicle. But how colleges employ staff and programs to improve campus climate for underserved students varies widely, the survey found.
Slightly less than half of the colleges surveyed had “culturally relevant programs or centers,” according to the study, and 45 percent were using data to identify achievement gaps between students of different races. About the same percentage were analyzing what the biggest challenges to retention and completion are for underserved students on their campuses. ‘
Just 42 percent of the respondents said their college is using DEI staff to develop such plans and programming on campus.
Even at colleges that have DEI offices, or that support DEI programs, other evidence reveals that those expenditures make up a small part of an institution’s overall budget. A Chronicle analysis found that the costs of all activities related to diversity, equity, and inclusion at Florida’s 12 public universities was less than 1 percent of their spending.
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican, required universities to report that data to state lawmakers. The request is seen as one of several efforts by DeSantis to identify and eliminate a liberal bias in higher education. Lawmakers in at least two other states, South Carolina and Oklahoma, have made similar requests of public colleges.
Several other states, including Florida, Iowa, Texas and West Virginia, are considering bills to prohibit spending on staff, or in some cases, programs that support diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts on campuses.
Faculty support is lacking.
Issues around curriculum and faculty hiring and retention were the biggest challenges, the survey found.
Less than a quarter of the colleges that responded had done a systematic review of their curriculum to “identify issues in diversity and inclusion.” Nor had they done a review of their student testing and grading policies to consider if they were fair and equitable.
Only a third of the responding colleges provided “professional development for faculty in understanding the experiences of diverse students in their classrooms,” the study found. Just 13 percent had “mechanisms and supportive measures for retaining faculty of color.”
Having a diverse faculty is one key to helping students of color succeed in college, according to a report from the Education Trust. But the diversity of tenure-track faculty members continues to lag, according to a paper published last year in the journal Nature Human Behavior. At the current rate, that study’s authors wrote, higher education will “never achieve demographic parity among tenure-track faculty.”
The Chronicle is tracking legislation that would restrict colleges from having diversity, equity, and inclusion offices or staff; ban mandatory diversity training; prohibit institutions from using diversity statements in hiring and promotion; or prohibit colleges from using race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in admissions or employment.
Check out our interactive maps showing where state lawmakers have introduced anti-DEI bills.
Tell us: What does DEI mean?
We’re working on an upcoming newsletter about the evolving definition of DEI, the abbrevation for diversity, equity, and inclusion. We want to hear from readers: What does DEI mean to you? When did you start seeing the term used on your campus or in your workplace?
Email Fernanda at email@example.com, and your response may be featured in a forthcoming newsletter.
- Amy Wax, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has said, among other things, that “on average, Blacks have lower cognitive ability than whites.” Wax, a tenured professor, denies that she’s said racist statements and says that she’s just telling the truth about race and affirmative action. The dean of the law school filed a complaint and requested a faculty hearing to consider issuing a “major sanction” against Wax. (The New York Times)
- A new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that Black students who attended historically Black colleges and universities reported fewer depressive symptoms after graduation compared with their peers who attended predominately white institutions. (BET)
- The top diversity officer at the New College of Florida was fired after a new group of conservative trustees promised to transform the small liberal-arts college into a new college that teaches the classics. This comes after the Board of Trustees voted to cut the institution’s Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence. (The Washington Post)