The University of North Carolina (UNC) has again rejected Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) requirements, this time for its medical school, as per a letter sent to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE).
UNC medical school will be disbanding its DEI task force without implementing any of its recommendations, according to Kristen Stevenson, senior university counsel. Stevenson made the statement in response to a letter sent by FIRE on April 7 expressing concerns over recommendations made in a report by the school’s DEI task force, among them that faculty should be “assessed regarding their contributions in the domain of social justice.”
In its letter, UNC stated, “…the recommendations have not been operationalized and the Task Force has concluded its work. There is no plan to implement the Task Force’s recommendations now or in the future.”
Stevenson referenced UNC’s amendments to its policy on the Political Activities of Employees, which “now prohibits the University from requiring an employee or applicant for academic admission or employment from having to ‘affirmatively ascribe to or opine about beliefs, affiliations, ideals, or principles regarding matters of contemporary political debate or social action as a condition to admission, employment, or professional advancement.’”
Earlier this year, UNC’s Board of Governors passed a resolution banning DEI statements, which many universities require in the hiring and admissions processes. The resolution stated that UNC “shall neither solicit nor require an employee or applicant for academic admission or employment to affirmatively ascribe to or opine about beliefs, affiliations, ideals, or principles regarding matters of contemporary political debate or social action as a condition to admission, employment, or professional advancement.”
Kenny Xu, president of Color Us United, a group that advocates for a race blind society, responded by saying,
“We’re proud of UNC’s decision to reject the DEI framework that lowers the quality of doctors and inundates their students with ideologies that have nothing to do with what is medically necessary. Our next step is to take UNC’s decision to other medical schools in our country to fully rid medicine from DEI’s divisive influence. We will also continue monitoring UNC’s School of Medicine to ensure that employees are not fed DEI trainings and curricula any longer.”
“It is important to note UNC is the first medical school to revoke their DEI framework without legislative interference, because it shows that we convinced key decisionmakers on the merits of revoking DEI and showed its harmful consequences on employees, student education, and the public.”
1 Samuel 16 gives the account of God leading Samuel to anoint David as the king of Israel. Verses 6 and 7 say,
“When they entered, he looked at Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.’ But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”
For a public university to consider race, sex, or commitment to a viewpoint as part of its admissions or performative policies is wholly wrong.
And yet, rather than selecting the best students and the best professors, or teaching medical students to triage care and treat patients based on medical need, too many universities are engaging in racism and sexism by looking first at race, sex, and other DEI characteristics, as well as discriminating based on a person’s religious views and personal convictions. DEI — which some describe as “affirmative action on steroids” — calls on its adherents to make decisions based on group identity rather than a person’s character and qualifications.
UNC has chosen to stand apart from the crowd, though to some degree, it might be a proactive move. That’s because UNC, along with Harvard University, is a defendant in an affirmative action case that was heard last fall by the U.S. Supreme Court; an opinion on the case is likely to be released this month and there is a very strong chance the justices will rule that the schools’ admissions policies based on race are unconstitutional.
Still, despite feeling pressure from within and without, UNC has opted to do the right thing by getting rid of DEI policies that reward identity rather than merit and hard work, and as such, its leaders should be commended. Perhaps more public universities, seeing a high-profile school like UNC step out and take the lead on this, will also start working to make DEI statements anathema.
Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.