University to Spend $121 Million on Diversity Efforts — And Maybe More in Two Years

Christian Montoya, College Fix, February 7, 2018

Last fall, Columbia University pledged to spend an extra $100 million on diversity efforts over five years.

Not content to play second fiddle on diversity spending, American University is spending even more, even faster.

The private university in Washington, D.C., plans to shell out $121 million in the next two years on its “Plan for Inclusive Excellence.”

That includes a mandatory full-year course for all freshmen starting this fall, The American University Experience.

The first section of AUx is designed to help students adjust to university life, covering topics such as freedom of expression, “exploring and expressing identities” and “diversity, bias, and privilege.”

For the second semester, AUx will pay particular attention to “race and social identity” issues and make students discuss contentious subjects in a way that “pushes beyond the norm,” according to the course outline.

Students will study the “uncomfortable ways” in which class, disability, religion, gender and sexual expression are often discussed, and learn about “structures of culture and power as well as social movements that challenge those structures.”

Asked for its goal in forcing freshmen to take diversity courses in order to graduate, a university spokesperson told The College Fix in an email that {snip} “The new courses will help students “achieve cultural competency and critical thinking,” and their “effect is also immediate” because the courses “help students navigate their academic, social, cultural, and psychological adjustment to university life,” he said, quoting from the course description.

The spokesperson equated these diversity courses with math and English skills because each teaches basic life skills.

{snip}

Last spring bananas were found hanging in makeshift nooses with the letters “AKA” written on them, a likely reference to the African American sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. Last fall, “Confederate flag fliers” were spotted on campus, and last month anti-immigration posters were posted around campus.

The school has yet to identify any suspects in the incidents.

AUx is part of a pot of $7 million in funding for fiscal year 2018 that also covers academic centers, faculty development and programs “specifically designated to advance access, equity, and inclusion,” according to the plan.

The other $53 million this fiscal year will go toward diversity-oriented institutional scholarships. {snip}

President Neil Kerwi

Its five goals include making “all community members feel safe, satisfied, and that they belong here,” pursuing “equity” in hiring and promotion (“diversity goals”), and promoting “critical inquiry, intellectual engagement, and respectful discourse across diverse perspectives” in the curriculum.

{snip}

“Having a campus that reflects the inclusion of everyone on our campus with different identities, different points of view, bringing different things – that’s the strength of an academic institution,” [President Syllvia] Burwell told The Eagle.

She suggested the Columbia-busting figure of $121 million over two years may actually serve as the starting point for the plan’s long-term goal.

{snip}

Burwell noted she entered office with one successful diversity metric: 44 percent of new faculty members as of last fall said they were “people of color.”

{snip}

In a survey last spring, 71 percent of white students felt included on campus, closely followed by 60 percent of Hispanic, Asian and international students, according to The Eagle. Only 33 percent of African American students said they felt included.

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