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Free Speech Is The Victim When Colleges Prioritize Fake Diversity Over Education

The episode at Stanford didn’t make it into Politico’s reporting about DEI becoming the latest inflection point in the culture wars.


Leftists love democracy until they’re asked to entertain free speech.

Politico published a story on Sunday labeling diversity programs “the new Red Scare for red states.”

The paper outlined a cascade of legislation emanating from Republican-led assemblies that aim to eliminate so-called “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) initiatives as the Supreme Court prepares to deliver a decision on affirmative action. Oral arguments last fall signaled the nine-member bench will likely declare race-based admissions unconstitutional.

“To save free speech on college campuses, Republican lawmakers and governors say it’s time to stop talking about diversity, equity and inclusion,” Politico reported. The magazine summed up the movement as an effort to “temper difficult conversations about race in the classroom.”

What Politico didn’t mention was an episode at Stanford University just 10 days prior, which offers a case study in how DEI mania routinely suppresses dissident speech.

At a lecture organized by the school’s Federalist Society, Fifth Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan was heckled by left-wing law students while university administrators not only refused to step in but joined the chorus. Tirien Steinbach, the law school’s diversity dean, took the podium over from Duncan to deride the Trump-appointed judge for engaging in speech “that feels abhorrent, that feels harmful, that literally denies the humanity of people.” Steinbach didn’t admonish the students — who are ostensibly at a top-tier law school to learn how to engage with ideas in argument — for shouting down the invited speaker. Instead, Steinbach asked Judge Duncan whether “the juice is worth the squeeze.”

“Do you have something so incredible and important to say about Twitter, and guns, and Covid that that is worth the division of these people?” Steinbach said.

Additional video from the lecture published by Fox News last week showed Steinbach smirking in the crowd as students heckled Judge Duncan.

The speech from the school’s diversity dean was not spontaneous. Steinbach showed up to the event with prepared remarks.

“Numerous senators, advocacy groups, think tanks, and judicial accountability groups,” she said, opposed the judge’s nomination because of his prior work “regarding marriage equality, and transgender, voting, reproductive, and immigrants’ rights.”

Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Law School Dean Jenny Martinez both apologized to Judge Duncan for the disruption of the event. The following Monday, the university’s left-wing students directed their fury at Martinez over the apology. The university also offered students in the law school’s chapter of the Federalist Society counseling from the same administrators who shut down their guest lecture. Students who had their event stifled were asked to refrain from tweeting about the disruption “until this news cycle winds down.”

“The Stanford blowup shows how the culture of DEI, and especially its accumulation of power in the bureaucracy, has become a threat to free speech,” wrote the Wall Street Journal editorial board on Friday. “Rather than promoting diversity, DEI officers enforce ideological conformity.”

Not only has the proliferation of DEI administrations radicalized a generation of students who make their way into corporate boardrooms and legacy newsrooms, but it’s also coincided with spikes in tuition while academics take a backseat.

“Jay Greene of the Heritage Foundation reports that the average major university now has 45 DEI personnel,” the Wall Street Journal editorial board noted. “The University of Michigan has 163 DEI officers. Ohio State and the University of Virginia each have 94. Georgia Tech has 41 DEI personnel but only 13 history professors.”

[RELATED: The Stanford Free Speech Debacle Is Another Reason Universities Need To Fire 99.9% Of Their Administrators]

Stanford University had 80 diversity personnel on staff for just more than 17,000 students in 2021, according to the Heritage Foundation. A Fox News review of the salaries of top DEI administrators at universities found they earn six-figure compensation packages that are far beyond the average pay for full-time professors.

The cost of college, meanwhile, has gone up more than 143 percent from 1963 to 2020.

But none of this — neither the episode at Stanford nor the astronomical pay pocketed by diversity administrators — made it into Politico’s reporting about DEI becoming the latest inflection point in the culture wars.

Republicans here aren’t even the aggressors, contrary to the magazine’s headline accusing conservatives of igniting a modern-day “Red Scare.” In reality, that would be the DEI administrators implementing a curriculum of mandated groupthink.

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