Former President Donald Trump, a 2024 presidential candidate, has promised to “radically transform” higher education by going after colleges that implement Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policies, planning to force colleges to defend “American tradition and Western civilization.”
He also vows to fire left-leaning accreditors, accusing them of allowing colleges to become “dominated by Marxists, maniacs, and lunatics.”
Of course, his announcement lacks clear policy directives.
Trump’s promise echoes Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ “Stop WOKE” law, which imposed rules about what schools and universities could teach regarding race, gender, and other topics. Currently, the law is blocked as a First Amendment violation, though DeSantis claims he’s certain the courts will eventually decide in his favor.
Trump’s promise is steeped in right-wing dog whistles that avoid education about some of the darker aspects of America’s past and present, including slavery and racial discrimination. He also promises to take action against colleges that engage in DEI, alleging racial discrimination against white men.
It remains to be seen whether Trump can get away with his proposed measures should he win the presidency again. If he does, the consequences could be dire for higher education, from professors and students fearing being fired to concerns about how degrees from affected universities may be deemed less valid. It is crucial that we protect academic freedom and diversity in education, and resist attempts to impose narrow political agendas on higher education.
When equality is achieved, it’s usually at the expense of a demographic that has benefitted from massive inequality, whether via institutionalized racism, sexism, homophobia, or some other form of hate.
If those things never existed, there would have never been a need for affirmative action.
We’re seeing a lot of people in powerful roles these days who are not white men as well as a rise of an educated Black / Hispanic / Asian middle class as well. And arguably, the most pronounced changes have come with women as they’re graduating college at a much higher rate than men and are already earning more than males in the 30 and under demographic in several large metro areas.
Seventy years ago, Blacks and women were universally considered “second-class” in the U.S. – It’s amazing what happens when barriers are torn down and people are given an opportunity.
Furthermore, aside from the aforementioned affirmative action component, most prominent colleges and universities want to be diverse.
Living, eating, socializing, and debating with students from various walks of life is a big part of the college experience that’s not in the curriculum.
Rest assured, any prominent education institution that boasts diversity in its student body promotes it proudly because most applicants don’t want to attend college with a bunch of kids that are carbon copies of themselves.