Youngkin to investigate woke DEI requirements at VCU, GMU

The Virginia governor's office is scrutinizing DEI mandates at Virginia Commonwealth University and George Mason University.

One controversial mandate at VCU would require students to study ‘the historical and current structures of racialized power and privilege, including whiteness.’

The Virginia Governor’s office plans to investigate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) mandates at two Virginia universities—Virginia Commonwealth University and George Mason University—to determine if they are promoting ideological indoctrination.

Aimee Guidera, Virginia’s Education Secretary, has asked to see syllabi from the two universities to determine whether these schools are imposing DEI on students, according to the Washington Examiner

A spokesman for Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, Christian Martinez, told Inside Higher Ed about complaints that were issued against DEI efforts in higher education: “The administration has heard concerns from members of the Board of Visitors, parents, and students across the Commonwealth regarding core curriculum mandates that are a thinly veiled attempt to incorporate the progressive left’s groupthink on Virginia’s students. Virginia’s public institutions should be teaching our students how to think, not what to think and not advancing ideological conformity,” he said.

[RELATED: GMU’s ‘Undocumented Scholars Award’ helps illegal immigrant students get past ‘barriers’]

One of the mandates that has come under scrutiny is GMU’s “Just Societies” requirement, which would begin to take effect during the fall semester of 2024, as the Washington Examiner related. 

Beginning later this year, GMU students “will be required to take two Mason Core courses that have the Just Societies flag,” according to the university’s website. Such courses must train students in two ways: they should be able to “[d]efine key terms related to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion as related to this course’s field/discipline,” and “[a]rticulate obstacles to justice and equity, and strategies for addressing them, in response to local, national, and/or global issues in the field/discipline,” the website states. 

Courses that would fulfill the “Just Societies” requirement include “Scientific Racism and Human Variation” and “Introduction to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies,” reported the Washington Examiner.

According to GMU’s DEI office, diversity is of “vital importance” to its “intellectual mission.”

“Various perspectives inform Mason’s curricular, co-curricular, and research endeavors, resulting in creative and innovative outcomes and help attract and retain individuals with diverse backgrounds,” the university’s DEI office states. “These activities give faculty and students an opportunity to engage in rigorous critical analysis of cultural, ethnic, racial and other related differences.”

For its part, VCU is considering imposing a DEI-related mandate called a “Racial Literacy” requirement to be implemented in the fall 2024 semester as well, wrote the Examiner.

[RELATED: New PA legislation would block colleges from requiring DEI courses]

“Racial Literacy” classes would have to examine “the social construction of race and racism, along with their origin, evolution, and maintenance,” “the historical and current structures of racialized power and privilege, including whiteness,” and “approaches and strategies to disrupt and dismantle systemic racism as well as ways to engender and institutionalize equitable alternatives,” among other topics, according to VCU’s Office of the Provost. 

VCU’s DEI office states on its website that it believes that “historically marginalized groups” remain victimized in modern society and “continue to be negatively impacted by structural and systemic racism, colonization, injustice and white supremacy.”

Campus Reform has contacted Virginia Commonwealth University and George Mason University for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.