Difference that drives progress is a spectacular ideal for higher education, but far too many schools are failing in practice. At Columbia University, a DEI office explicitly states that they “are committed to centering race in our pursuit of social justice and anti-oppressive practice. We view this as a guiding principle for our community – using a power, race, oppression, and privilege (PROP) framework across our curriculum, administrative practices, operations, and personal interactions.” This is not a neutral statement—it is an overtly political position that opposes the views of many, suggesting that there is no room for disagreement. In practice, this statement means that those who disagree, including conservatives, are not welcome. Sadly, such statements are commonplace nationwide, and the State University of New York system is mandating a new “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice” course for all undergraduates, beginning this fall.
It should surprise no one, then, that data from New America’s Varying Degrees survey shows appreciably different partisan attitudes toward higher education. About 44 percent of Democrats strongly agree that public four-year colleges and universities are meant for people like them. Only 21 percent of Republicans agree. This partisan difference is significant and sobering. Even independents are not thrilled about the politically charged progressive rhetoric on our campuses, as just 29 percent strongly agree that these schools are for them.