UNC Med School disbands DEI task force after backlash

The task force previously promoted discussions on 'Understanding that America's medical system is structurally racist' and 'Understanding and Responding to Microaggressions.'

After pushback from Color Us United and FIRE, UNC expressed its commitment to 'the First Amendment and principles of academic freedom and free expression.'

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) School of Medicine has officially discontinued its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) task force.

Originally formed in 2019, according to a school statement made to Daily Mail, the group was assigned tasks such as “finding environments where diverse groups of students [can] thrive” and “eliminating racist content and terminology.”

A year later, the task force encouraged students to explore topics like “Understanding that America’s medical system is structurally racist” and “Understanding and Responding to Microaggressions.”

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However, the school faced pressure from Color Us United, a group “advocating for a race-blind America,” who objected to the task force and its recommendations.

Kenny Xu, the group’s president, discussed its motivation in a statement to Daily Mail, saying: “Mandatory unconscious bias trainings, racially discriminatory admissions all lowered the standards for high quality doctors. And we found it important that they make a public pronouncement against it.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) recently sent a letter to UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz expressing concern that faculty might feel obligated “to voice or demonstrate commitments to prescribed views on contested questions of politics or morality to avoid adverse employment action.” The letter specifically referenced the task force’s recommendation that medical school faculty be “assessed regarding their contributions in the domain of social justice.”

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In a response on May 11, Senior University Counsel Kirsten Stevenson stated that “there is no plan to implement the Task Force’s recommendations now or in the future.” 

She also noted that the recommendations would have conflicted with a recent UNC policy that restricts the university from requiring employees or admissions applicants to “affirmatively ascribe to or opine about beliefs, affiliations, ideals, or principles regarding matters of contemporary political debate or social action as a condition to admission, employment, or professional advancement.”

Stevenson acknowledged that “the Task Force was initiated as a means to emphasize compliance with the School of Medicine’s and the Department of Health Sciences’ shared mission of improving the health and wellbeing of North Carolinians,” and that UNC “remains fully committed to compliance with the First Amendment and principles of academic freedom and free expression.”

Campus Reform has contacted the UNC School of Medicine, FIRE, and Color Us United for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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