PROF. JENKINS: The reasons why DEI is a costly failure

DEI programs promote the opposite of what they claim. Through faculty 'diversity statements,' de facto racial quotas, and onerous speech codes, they enforce a rigorous intellectual conformity.

Rob Jenkins is a Higher Education Fellow with Campus Reform and a tenured associate professor of English at Georgia State University - Perimeter College. In a career spanning more than three decades at five different institutions, he has served as a head men’s basketball coach, an athletic director, a department chair, and an academic dean, as well as a faculty member. Jenkins’ opinions are his own and do not represent those of his employer.


Earlier this month, amid howls from the “progressive” Left, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis demanded an accounting of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) expenditures from the state’s public colleges and universities. 

The results are exactly what you might expect. According to a recent report from Campus Reform, in 2022, Florida institutions spent $28 million on DEI initiatives, more than half of that ($15 million) funded by taxpayers.  

Now we know what Floridians are paying for DEI. But what are they getting in return? Are the programs worth it? Do they even work?  

The short answer is “No.” Such programs are not only ineffective at achieving their stated goals, they are actually counterproductive.  

As always with leftist jargon, feel-good terms like “diversity, equity, and inclusion” serve to mask the movement’s real intent. In truth, DEI programs promote the opposite of what they claim.  

They are not designed to foster real diversity. Instead, through faculty “diversity statements,” de facto racial quotas, and onerous speech codes, they enforce a rigorous intellectual conformity.   

Nor do they promote equality—which is not the same as “equity,” however much the two words may sound alike. Equity refers to equal outcomes, which can be achieved only through forced inequality in recruitment, admissions, and grading.  

As for “inclusion”—well, leftists are interested only in including more of the people they like—based mostly on skin color, sexual preference, and “gender identify”—while excluding people they don’t like, specifically “cis” white males and political conservatives.  

In other words, DEI programs exist not so much to make campuses more welcoming to the former as to make them more hostile to the latter. 

Still, assuming the goal of such programs is to attract more minority students, are they at least succeeding at that?  

Evidently not.  

After a decade of DEI initiatives—and more than 50 years of the same basic idea cloaked in different guises, such as “affirmative action”—The Chronicle of Higher Education and other industry publications are still replete with stories and op/eds decrying sagging minority enrollment.  

Just this past September, I received an email advertising a new white paper entitled “Education for All: What It Takes to Get There.” It begins by noting that “enrollment for Black 18-24-year-olds fell from 38% to 26% in the last decade, while enrollment for indigenous 18-24-year-olds nearly halved in the same time.”  

Wait. What? Ten years of burgeoning campus DEI programs and the result has been…to cut the percentage of “BIPOC” students by more than a third?  

Obviously, despite the millions wasted on them, these programs haven’t achieved what they supposedly set out to achieve. In fact, the inverse appears to be true. 

But it’s even worse than that. DEI’s negative effects extend far beyond campus.  

As Campus Reform reported recently, some employers are now “asking job applicants, in the name of equity, to keep their colleges off resumes. Instead, resumes should only name the degrees earned.”  

It appears that “elite” universities, incubators of the “equity” movement, have all along been sowing the seeds of their own destruction.  

After all, why would someone spend all that money to attend an “elite” school if they can’t even list it on their resume? They might as well go to community college, then transfer to Directional State U.  

My bet is that more and more students will do precisely that. And perhaps such a trend, even more than a taxpayer revolt over the grotesque pricetag, will be what finally puts paid to DEI.  


Editorials and op-eds reflect the opinion of the authors and not necessarily that of Campus Reform or the Leadership Institute.