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Care Bears are Cheaper

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ABC’s Chancellors for Equity and Inclusion, 1985-1988

I have recently written on the moral implications of growing tuition costs and the resulting student loan debt (here). One factor I did not explore in depth was the reason for rising tuition costs, which, adjusted for inflation, have more than doubled since the 1980s. No doubt, there are many factors that have contributed to this, but George F. Will of the Boston Herald points to one possible cause: bureaucratic sprawl under the auspices of promoting diversity. Despite rising costs for students, Will writes,

UCSD found money to create a Vice Chancellorship for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. UC Davis has a Diversity Trainers Institute under an Administrator of Diversity Education, who presumably coordinates with the Cross-Cultural Center. It also has: a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center; a Sexual Harassment Education Program; a Diversity Program Coordinator; an Early Resolution Discrimination Coordinator; and Cross-Cultural Competency Certificates in “Understanding Diversity and Social Justice.” California’s budget crisis has not prevented UC San Francisco from creating a new Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Outreach to supplement UCSF’s Office of Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity and Diversity, and the Diversity Learning Center (which teaches how to become “a Diversity Change Agent”), and the Center for LGBT Health and Equity, and the Office of Sexual Harassment Prevention & Resolution, and the Chancellor’s Advisory Committees on Diversity, and on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues, and on the Status of Women.

Personally, I think that fair treatment of all and appreciation of cultural heritage is a good thing, but do we really need more and more administrators to ensure it? Indeed, Will notes, “In 2009 the base salary of UC Berkeley’s Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion was $194,000, almost four times that of starting assistant professors. And by 2006, academic administrators outnumbered faculty.” Surely there must be a more efficient (not to mention ethical) way.

After all, Millennials like myself do not need help valuing diversity. They already do, likely due more to G.I. Joe, Captain Planet, Care Bears, Power Rangers (actually full of rather embarrassing stereotypes), and Star Trek than to any administrative programs. We have been culturally saturated with it since childhood and do not need more debt and less education to achieve it, thank you very much.

Indeed, there is nothing more uncomfortable and evidently insecure to me than an organization that is always trying to be more “diverse.” These are precisely the organizations to which I would be ashamed to bring any friends of minority groups; it sends the unwelcoming message that they are not there because of their value to me as friends and persons, but rather in order that they can be a statistic for an organization over-worried about how diverse they are perceived to be. The United States has a legal system whereby issues of hate crimes and sexual harassment, for example, can be dealt with, so why do schools need to spend so much (passing the cost on to students) to try to do for us what Saturday morning cartoons, after school programs, student led organizations, and the criminal justice system have already done? I suppose, at the very least, they are providing jobs for the growing number of minority-studies majors, but that economic advantage, upon closer scrutiny, is non-existent. Paying people for wholly unproductive work does not produce wealth, it saps it.

What we need are better and less costly educations; we are getting the opposite. And this, of course, comes at the great cost of lost opportunity: double the cost, double the loans, double the debt, more of our resources going simply to paying interest, not to mention paying for dumbed-down educations—an economic and moral failing caused in part by trying to fix a problem that the Care Bears already had covered.

Dylan Pahman Dylan Pahman is a research fellow at the Acton Institute, where he serves as managing editor of the Journal of Markets & Morality. He earned his MTS in Historical Theology from Calvin Theological Seminary. In addition to his work as an editor, Dylan has authored several peer-reviewed articles, conference papers, essays, and one book: Foundations of a Free & Virtuous Society (Acton Institute, 2017). He has also lectured on a wide variety of topics, including Orthodox Christian social thought, the history of Christian monastic enterprise, the Reformed statesman and theologian Abraham Kuyper, and academic publishing, among others.


  • If there’s anything that will make diversity uncool, it is administrative promotion of such.

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  • I agree. I began by saying, “No doubt, there are many factors that have contributed to this…” and ended by qualifying the problem as “caused in part” by the diversity and inclusion sphere. By “after school programs” I meant TV programs, but I see how that was confusing; I should have been less ambiguous. Student led organizations often have very small budgets allotted to them, but they are usually volunteer-based.

  • I don’t think that diversity service administrators are the whole problem (and explicitly said as much in the post), but there is a large amount of administrative sprawl, partly caused by adding more and more diversity related administration, that seems unnecessary today. I in no way intended to imply that discrimination is not still real or a problem or that no diversity services are needed or warranted, but I seriously question that more and more high paid administrators is the only or best solution to this problem. Let me ask, is having a (or many) dedicated diversity specialists the only solution? What about better educating administrators already on staff? Doesn’t hiring dedicated specialists actually allow other administrators to remain culturally incompetent (encouraging a “that’s someone else’s job” sort of mentality)?

    There is another side to the coin as well. From the website of a school I attended, one would think that the campus was far more diverse than it actually was. Nearly every webpage on the site had a picture of a non-white student. Perhaps one might think that putting pictures of minority students front and center would be more welcoming of diversity, but it gave a false impression. Indeed, most of the minority students pictured on the website were
    international students, who, for their part, already expected to be entering a foreign
    culture and were able to adapt because of that perspective, and whose culture was drastically different than any
    non-white American. For the most part, the school’s dominant culture was white and Dutch, and I know of several American students of other cultures who often felt alienated there. Did they come because of the website or any other intentional promotion of diversity? Well, I’m not sure. Chances are the decision to come there was complex for them. But if going to a culturally diverse college was a factor for any of them, they were drawn there under a false pretense.

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