If the University of Georgia hopes to close the race gap between its students and professors, they’re going to have to find new ways to solve the problem. Here is the full story about how new laws are putting the brakes on “diversity, equity, and inclusion” efforts.
They Changed the Game
The University of Georgia system opened the new school year under a restricted set of hiring and training guidelines that have students and faculty up in arms.
DEI Under Fire
Following a Supreme Court ruling this summer and similar moves at public universities across the United States, Georgia took aim at their own diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts.
As part of the push to make campuses more welcoming and productive for traditionally under-represented groups, DEI programs have become hot-button topics over the last several years.
Colleges and Students Love Them
University administrators and students generally applaud the efforts to build a more diverse and equitable college experience for everyone.
Republicans Think DEI Is Unfair
But conservatives have widely railed against the movement, claiming that the resultant hiring and training practices promote unfairness and divisiveness.
DEI Statements a Struggle
One of the key arguing points are the required DEI statements that have become part of the hiring practices at many colleges and universities.
Prove Your Commitment
These statements require applicants to spell out in writing the ways in which they have helped build and support a diverse and safe workplace and learning environment in their past jobs.
Applicants Get Grilled
Applicants are also often asked specific questions about how they view DEI and why they value diversity in their workplace and on campuses during interviews.
They Claim It’s Indoctrination
Many conservatives claim that this type of questioning and the associated DEI statement requirements indoctrinate employees in a certain way of thinking.
DEI Kills Free Speech?
The irony, conservatives say, is that the hard-core implementation of DEI requirements limits the very free speech that proponents claim to value so much.
Conservatives Take the Lead
Now, at least for the moment, it appears that conservative viewpoint has won the day in the University of Georgia system.
HR Brings Down the Hammer
As the 2023 school year got under way, the University of Georgia HR department issued new guidance to its 26 campuses.
They Banned DEI
That policy change spells out an explicit ban on requiring DEI statements and other associated hiring screens, including “affirmations, ideological tests, and oaths.”
Training Took It on the Chin
The policy change extends to existing employees, too.
Specifically, employees can no longer be required to take DEI training once they’re on the job.
They Have to Be Less Specific
Hiring managers are still allowed to ask more broad questions, such as inviting applicants to describe training programs or workplace improvements they have been responsible for.
A Step Backwards
Critics of the move see the ban on DEI hiring and training as a huge step backwards in making public education accessible to all students.
A Gap Between Students and Faculty
A big part of the concern on that front lies in the difference between the student and faculty populations.
Whites Are a Minority
In the fall of 2022, for example, the University of Georgia reported that just 44.8% of their students were white.
In contrast, 66.8% of faculty were white.
Unfair to Students
That disparity is both discouraging and unwelcoming to minority students, critics say.
Things Can Only Get Worse
And, with this step back in DEI efforts, they only see that gap widening in the coming years.
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Jacob Lund. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.