University president claims DEI efforts are at the 'core' of the purpose of higher ed

Dr. Nathan Long argues that every facet of campus life is ‘under siege from political leaders with an agenda to advance.’

Long said diversity discussions are not ‘nice-to-haves.’ They “sit at the core of what it means to be an institution of higher learning.’

A university president said America’s reputation as a world leader in higher education is at risk due to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies being “under siege.”

“Every facet of campus life that can help expand a student’s or community’s perspective on difference–race-conscious curriculum, diversity training, equity-focused initiatives highlighting systemic inequalities–ism political leaders with an agenda to advance (and a straw poll in their sights),” Dr. Nathan Long, president of Saybrook University, writes in Higher Ed Dive.

“I cannot state this more clearly: America’s longstanding reputation as a global leader in higher education is at stake,” Dr. Long notes.

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“A college education in the 21st century must include clear, intentional, ongoing and challenging discussions on justice, diversity, equity and inclusion,” he writes. “Institutions that don’t fulfill this vision do their students a profound disservice.” 

Long says that with the next generation of American leaders, “professionals and citizens must understand our country’s diverse and evolving landscape if they want to be effective professionals and engaged community members after graduation.”

Diversity discussions are not “nice-to-haves,” but rather “sit at the core of what it means to be an institution of higher learning,” he writes. 

Long also notes the recent ‘movement’ of dismantling “efforts to diversify our nation’s campuses.” He draws on the recent Supreme Court decision that ruled “race-conscious admissions unconstitutional.”

Furthermore, he says that state institutions are ‘muzzled’ by political forces when it comes to diversity-related issues. 

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Long references Saybrook’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Council, which is identifying and removing exclusionary language, and “evaluating the effectiveness of toolkits to help hire more diverse candidates,” Long explains.  

As part of its purpose, the JEDI Council “determines strengths and challenges in supporting students, faculty, and staff, and identify and dismantle White supremacist structures that perpetuate barriers for historically marginalized individuals.,” according to Saybrook’s website.

“Diversity is not at odds with higher education,” Long writes. “It sits at the very heart of why higher education is so important.”

Long and Saybrook University did not respond to requests for comment.