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 DEI efforts.
Restricted Hiring and Training Guidelines
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.
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.
University administrators and students generally applaud the efforts to build a more diverse and equitable college experience for everyone.
But conservatives have widely railed against the movement, claiming that the resultant hiring and training practices promote unfairness and divisiveness.
One of the key arguing points is the required DEI statements that have become part of the hiring practices at many colleges and universities.
How Have You Helped Build and Support a Diverse and Safe Workplace?
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 are also often asked specific questions about how they view DEI and why they value diversity in their workplace and campus during interviews.
Many conservatives claim that this type of questioning and the associated DEI statement requirements indoctrinate employees in a certain way of thinking.
Limiting 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.
Now, at least for the moment, it appears that a conservative viewpoint has won the day in the University of Georgia system.
As the 2023 school year got underway, the University of Georgia’s HR department issued new guidance to its 26 campuses.
That policy change spells out an explicit ban on requiring DEI statements and other associated hiring screens, including “affirmations, ideological tests, and oaths.”
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.
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.
Critics of the move see the ban on DEI hiring and training as a huge step backward in making public education accessible to all students.
A Widening Gap
A big part of the concern on that front lies in the difference between the student and faculty populations.
In the fall of 2022, for example, the University of Georgia reported that just 44.8% of its students were white.
In contrast, 66.8% of faculty were white.
That disparity is both discouraging and unwelcoming to minority students, critics say.
And, with this step back in DEI efforts, they only see that gap widening in the coming years.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Kelly vanDellen