DEI magazine awards colleges and universities while charging them for surveys and reports

DEI magazine 'INSIGHT Into Diversity' announced recipients of an annual award that ‘recognizes colleges and universities’ for ‘an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.’

INSIGHT also charges colleges and universities for campus climate surveys and reports ‘to see how they stack up to’ award recipients.

In November, Swarthmore College received its sixth consecutive Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award from INSIGHT Into Diversity

INSIGHT is “the oldest and largest diversity magazine and website in higher education” according to its website, and the HEED award “recognizes colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

The December issue of INSIGHT includes the articles “Select Supreme Court Justices Assert the Diversity Benefits of Affirmative Action” and “Introductory STEM Courses Drive Out Underrepresented Female Students at Higher Rates than White Male Students.” 

The company’s website also describes INSIGHT as “a comprehensive recruiting vehicle” for employer advertisements. 

Associate Dean of Inclusive Excellence Tiffany Thompson told the Swarthmore Communications Office that the college “recognizes the importance” of a diverse campus and continues “to interweave [diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)] practices into all divisions of the College.” 

Swarthmore is one of over 100 colleges and universities recognized by the 2022 award. INSIGHT announced its health profession recipients in December, which include colleges of nursing, veterinary medicine, and public health. 

[RELATED: DEI commitments required to get tenure, promotions at this medical school]

INSIGHT’s publisher, Potomac Publishing, Inc., evaluates HEED award applications. sample application asks for data on the “gender identity,” “race/ethnicity,” and affiliations such as “LGBTQ+” of students, faculty, and administrative leaders. Questions about gender identity include the options “Non-binary” and “Transgender.” 

The sample application also has yes/no questions on whether the college or university has “published guidelines differentiating free speech from hate speech,” “[t]rans-inclusive health benefits,” and a “[c]ommittee to address possible historical ties…to past injustices (building names, statues, etc.).” 

[RELATED: Medical school infuses curriculum with CRT, DEI]

At a cost of $4,450, colleges and universities can purchase an INSIGHT Viewfinder® Campus Climate Survey” for students, faculty, staff, or administrators. The campus climate surveys are “designed to help colleges and universities measure and assess both their strengths and weaknesses around diversity and inclusion efforts” according to INSIGHT’s website

Comprehensive surveys for administrators, faculty, and staff cost $6,950 with an additional $1,695 for Spanish versions. 

Campus Reform asked Lenore Pearlstein, the owner and president of Potomac Publishing, Inc., about the fee for administering the Spanish version of each survey. “Our campus climate surveys are customized by each school, therefore, we have to translate each survey into Spanish or other languages for each survey,” Pearlstein said. 

“Its [sic] extremely time-consuming since our surveys are around 50-60 questions each.”

INSIGHT’s sample HEED award application asks, “If you administered a campus-wide climate survey in the past three years, what actions, if any, have you taken on campus based on the results of your survey(s)?” In a question about how the applicant heard about the award, administering a Viewfinder survey is one of the options. 

Colleges and universities can also purchase “Award Data Reports,” which allow them to complete a HEED application and select award recipient schools for comparison. Costs range from $495 for a report that “highlights the diversity characteristics and capabilities” of award recipients to $1,895 for a custom report for schools “to see how they stack up to their peers.”

In addition to the HEED award, INSIGHT offers the “Jesse L. Moore Supplier Diversity Award.” “There are millions of dollars spent on goods and services by institutions of higher education every year, yet there is little recognition of the contributions colleges and universities are making to supporting diverse suppliers in their communities and beyond,” the award description says. 

Campus Reform followed up with Pearlstein to ask whether any colleges or universities have received an award for using suppliers who have advertised in INSIGHT and whether colleges and universities pay to advertise in INSIGHT. Pearlstein did not provide a response at the time of publication. 

Campus Reform contacted INSIGHT, Swarthmore College, and Thompson for comment. This article will be updated accordingly. 

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