The University of Idaho recently decided to move forward with a potentially unconstitutional $550 million purchase of the University of Phoenix through NewU. The deal contains a host of problems, including the University of Idaho acquiring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs at the University of Phoenix. The Idaho Board of Education has made its opposition to DEI in higher education clear by banning diversity statements in hiring practices, yet the adoption of more DEI programs at Idaho universities went unquestioned in the NewU deal.
The University of Phoenix’s DEI initiatives espouses a clear ideological agenda. Consistently, the initiatives amplify the narrative of systemic racism, that group identity based on one's race or sex must be valued over individuality, and equity must be celebrated while meritocracy stigmatized. These DEI policies and programs present on college campuses destroy personal responsibility and individual achievement, core values that are celebrated in Idaho. Such initiatives neglect the complexity of the societal dynamics of discrimination and disparities, reducing them to the simplistic binary of oppressor and oppressed. This DEI agenda is being accelerated in Idaho higher education through the creation of NewU.
In the words of the University of Phoenix, Diversity is written into its DNA. Under this banner of DEI, the university has trained faculty and students in critical race theory — including “white privilege” and the anti-racism teachings of Ibram X. Kendi — and in gender ideology, including gender identity and transgenderism. The university’s DEI initiatives have infiltrated curriculum and instruction, guided by the Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Research, who seek to extend the ideology into research, teaching, and curriculum.
The university’s DEI initiatives have created and fed a large DEI bureaucracy. For example, the President’s advisory council on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging advances DEI strategies throughout the campus experience and culture. Such councils ensure that DEI will remain a perpetual priority for the university. The university's Office of Educational Equity furthers this mission by offering DEI professional development to students, faculty, and staff. Resources promoted by the office include “Racial Equity Tools,” microaggressions, the Harvard Implicit Bias test, and Kimberle Crenshaw’s Intersectionality. The office has at least two high-ranking administrators, including a Director of Student Diversity & Inclusion. The university also employs a Dean of Multicultural Affairs & Diversity.
Overall the University of Phoenix has institutionalized DEI in the fabric of their university. The creation of NewU is therefore accelerating the politicization of the University of Idaho. These DEI programs and policies influence vast areas of university life. They affect multiple levels of administration, high-level committees, faculty training, and curriculum.
This ever-expanding ideological agenda is contrary to the State Board of Education’s position on DEI. Recently, the Idaho Board of Education banned diversity statements in hiring practices. The move was meant to ensure faculty members are hired based on their competence, not their identity. By banning these statements, the board affirmed its commitment to meritocracy, a principle central to our educational institutions' integrity.
The University of Idaho's acquisition of DEI programs through NewU contradicts this mandate and seems to dismiss the board's position on DEI. By doing so, the university jeopardizes its integrity and fosters an educational environment of discrimination and hostility in stark contrast to the values of the state and its people.
The University of Idaho's decision to acquire the University of Phoenix's DEI programs through NewU must be reconsidered. These programs espouse a harmful ideological agenda and accelerate the growth of DEI in Idaho universities. For those concerned about the rolling revolution of higher education, the NewU deal at the University of Idaho cannot be ignored.
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