A group dedicated to studying what it calls “viewpoint diversity” in public universities issued a Monday press release and report saying that while conservative views are smothered on Tennessee’s college campuses, far-left ideologies are thriving.
“Academics and administrators are no longer merely pushing progressive politics but transforming universities into institutions dedicated to political activism and indoctrinating students into a hateful ideology. We call this ideological bent, Critical Social Justice [CSJ],” according to a report published by Velocity Convergence.
CSJ, the group states, is a similar but more encompassing term than Critical Race Theory (CRT), which is a hot topic in the political world. The latter theory teaches students to view the world through a lens of racial and sexual oppression.
The former, according to Velocity Convergence, “begins with criticism or critical analysis, where activists unmask the supposed hidden realities of the world,” which includes more oppressors than straight, white people who are typically targeted by CRT ideology.
“America, they say, seems to be a place of equal opportunity or fair admissions, but it really is made up of various structures of oppression built by the privileged to keep victim groups weak and unequal,” the report says.
It further explains CSJ:
Under this ideology, America is said to have a patriarchal, racist, Christian, homophobic, cisgendered, and ableist culture. The “advantaged” America tries to impose its ways on allegedly disadvantaged Americans. The alleged oppressors, CSJ proponents argue, do this in sneaky ways, like passing seemingly colorblind laws or having colorblind admission standards at universities that actually exclude minorities. America and all of the West are everywhere and always racist, sexist, etc. — that is the conclusion of the CSJ activists.
But activists promise a CSJ remedy to this problem. Victims, they believe, should be elevated and the supposedly privileged, demoted. This remedy is realized differently in different institutional settings. At universities specifically, students’ minds will be retrained. They will be taught to identify, shame, and destroy “oppressors.” Activists will teach oppressors to identify with the plight of victims and remediate activism on victims’ behalf, while they encourage supposed oppressors to feel shame for their “whiteness” or “toxic masculinity.” Two sets of standards — one for the alleged oppressors and one for the alleged victims — emerge.
The report measures individual schools’ commitment to viewpoint diversity – or lack thereof – by a number of different factors. Chief among those factors is each school’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
According to the report, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (UTK) is the worst offender in terms of DEI.
“UTK has remarkably gone from almost no DEI infrastructure in 2018 to a fully built-out DEI infrastructure in the span of 4 years,” the report says. “It has significant plans to spread this narrow ideology into all corners of the university.”
The report notes that the school has designated nine credits – equal to three courses where three credits are distributed – to DEI/CSJ initiatives. Students must take these courses in order to graduate.
Other schools in Tennessee, Velocity Convergence says, are not faring much better.
East Tennessee State University, for example, “has a Strategic Action Plan from its Office of Equity and Inclusion, a dedicated university-level administrator, and a Council to oversee its efforts at the university level.”
It also hired a DEI Associate Dean for its College of Arts and Sciences.
The University of Memphis has hired a staff member for a similar role.
Other schools, like the University of Tennessee-Martin and Tennessee Tech University are seeking to hire staffers for similar roles.
The report concludes:
Those pushing this ideology hope to change Tennessee’s culture and its values. But this DEI mission does not advance the common good or the cause of knowledge.
Instead, it is inimical to both. It undermines the common good by compromising the rule of equal laws and the idea of individuals having rights as individuals instead of having claims as members of groups. It tends to alienate many citizens — including the most productive — from their country. It undermines the advancement of knowledge by taking certain questions off the table and by reflecting a false understanding of human beings stuck with their group identity.
Read the full report:
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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].