‘Not enough’: This prof is not satisfied with expensive anti-racism guest speakers

A DePaul University professor wrote that 'exorbitantly priced' guest speakers are not sufficient to combat racism.

Several American universities are paying enormous fees, costing schools thousands of dollars.

A professor at DePaul University believes that “exorbitantly priced” guest speakers are not sufficient in pursuing anti-racism.

At the end of April, the DePaul University Black Leadership Coalition sent a letter to DePaul President A. Gabriel Esteban about “ending institutional racism and structural inequality.” In response, Esteban stated that he shares the students’ concerns “regarding Black student recruitment and retention, as well as the work required to improve the climate and success of faculty and staff of African descent.”

“I agree that we can and must do better,” he wrote. “I will discuss your concerns with my leadership team and the board leadership as part of our continuing strategic conversations on these topics.”

The student newspaper The DePaulia reported that Valerie Johnson — a political science professor at DePaul — was not satisfied with Esteban’s response.

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Johnson sent a letter to Esteban declaring that “it is high time to move beyond conversations with your leadership and to unequivocally and without further hesitation commit to real and substantive measures.”

In particular, Johnson condemned “exorbitantly priced speakers, visioning forums, book readings, and day long workshops,” since they “divert invaluable resources” away from anti-racism.

“Black students are still the least enrolled and have the lowest graduation rates,” she said in the reported letter. “People of African descent are still underrepresented in administrative positions and among the faculty. DePaul is still a chilly racial climate for black students, staff, and faculty — the latter who often have little recourse than to sue the University or rely on external appeals.”

Johnson told Campus Reform that “several faculty, staff, and students have confirmed or copied me on their letters to our president, but I haven’t received a response from him.”

“It’s disheartening, and certainly does not evince a commitment to DEI,” she added.

Campus Reform has reported on several leading universities hiring critical race theorists to deliver speeches as part of their racial equity efforts. Such speeches are often accompanied by large payments.

[Related: EXCLUSIVE: University of Arkansas pays communist speaker over $200 per minute. Take a look at the total bill.]

For instance, the University of Oregon paid 1619 Project founder Nikole Hannah-Jones $25,000 for a virtual speaker event.

Likewise, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse spent $5,000 on a transgender activist for two total hours of speaking time.

Campus Reform reached out to DePaul University and Johnson for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow this author on Twitter: @BenZeisloft