REPORT: Freshman orientation materials dominated by DEI agenda
Speech First obtained freshmen orientation material from various colleges through Freedom of Information Act requests.
The report found that 91% of reviewed material stressed DEI topics including microaggressions, anti-racism, and trigger warnings.
A public record request by the free speech organization Speech First (SF) found that colleges and universities flood freshman orientation material with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), but rarely mention freedom of speech.
The report, titled “Freshman Disorientation: How Colleges and Universities Lay the Groundwork for Student Indoctrination,” found that 91% of the 51 schools analyzed heavily emphasized DEI concepts in orientation material. Topics included microaggressions, anti-racism, trigger warnings, bias, racial equity, DEI training, and discrimination.
Only about 30% of analyzed colleges mentioned “free speech” or “viewpoint diversity” in their programming. An examination of PowerPoint slides found that DEI concepts were 3.71 times more prevalent in slide material than free speech and viewpoint diversity.
The study pinned DEI as 4.9 times more prevalent than free speech in handouts, and 7.27 times more prevalent in video material, respectively.
According to the report, this discrepancy is alarming as orientations are the “first gatherings through which universities begin to shape the thinking of students entering the gates of their campus.”
“From what we’ve learned, it is clear that our public universities do not provide incoming students with a foundation of respect for free speech, open discourse, and civic education,” SF Executive Director Cherise Trump said in a press release provided to Campus Reform.
Rather, she accused colleges of providing greater emphasis on “race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and guilting incoming students into believing they are implicitly biased and must view themselves and their fellow students as possible racists and bigots.”
The study referred to numerous examples of what colleges taught their first-year students during orientation week.
Northern Kentucky University (NKU) promised students they would have the opportunity to attend drag shows, while both the State University of New York at New Paltz and the University of California at Irvine require students to take an implicit bias test, according to the SF report
“If you wonder why students are so willing to report on one another using bias reporting systems, this is where it starts,” Trump told Campus Reform. “Universities are manipulating students, planting seeds of insecurity where there were none before, and encouraging them to see each other as potential racists and bigots.”
She continued, stating, “[t]his is why students are so adamant to shut down each other’s speech while the universities provide them with mechanisms to do so.”
The University of Minnesota, University of Washington, James Madison University (JMU), and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas were also cited as emphasizing DEI in the training material.
Mary-Hope Vass, Executive Director of Communications and University Spokesperson at JMU, told Campus Reform that the PowerPoint referenced in the report will not be used by the university.
“JMU is committed to free expression and viewpoint diversity,” she said in a prepared statement. “The president will address free speech and viewpoint diversity during his opening remarks to all new students, and these topics will continue to be addressed throughout the year.”
On the other hand, the report commended George Mason University and Louisiana State University (LSU) for their “exemplary devotion to the principles of free speech and inquiry in their orientation programs.”
LSU Interim Vice President Ernie Ballard III referred Campus Reform to the university’s Permanent Memorandum on Freedom of Speech, which reaffirms LSU’s commitment to protecting freedom of expression and establishing a “culture of intense inquiry.”
“This freedom comes with a responsibility to welcome and promote expression for all people and all ideas, even when in disagreement or opposition,” the policy states. “This policy applies to all campus locations of LSU.”
According to Ms. Trump, many universities were reluctant to share orientation materials.
In response, the organization announced the creation of a “Freshman Orientation Tip Line” where students and faculty can “expose universities’ nefarious attempts to guilt and pressure students into silence and conformity,” Trump said.
Campus Reform contacted every university mentioned for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.
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