So-called “Diversity Educators” are suffering from burnout due to the “emotional weight” of their jobs, according to a recent academic journal article published this week in the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice.
The study, written by University of North Carolina-Charlotte professor Ryan Miller and six colleagues from the University of North Texas, interviewed seven interviewed diversity educators from a “predominantly white research institution” who claim that they suffer from “compassion fatigue,” “burnout,” and “racial battle fatigue” in their efforts to combat microaggressions on campus.
According to Miller, the burnout is caused by the diversity educators’ “consistent exposure to various microaggressions” from students who don’t see things their way. He notes that these microaggressions have been conceptualized by some scholars “as forms of assault and torture.”
The article, which was highlighted Friday by Campus Reform, describes the burnout as a “gradual wearing down of individuals entrenched in the work of helping others as diversity educators.”
“Team members described the emotional toll of facilitating diversity education, which sometimes led to fatigue, burnout, and disengagement,” Miller states. He adds that they “found it difficult to separate their identities and experiences from the topics at hand in a facilitation.”
The diversity educators struggle with feeling underqualified for their jobs and suffer from a desire to “prove their legitimacy to others,” according to Miller, who proposed paying them higher salaries and giving them more recognition for their efforts.
“We recommend that senior institutional leaders publicly and symbolically recognize the work of diversity educators,” Miller states. He claims that their work should be prioritized by institutions, and their efforts rewarded accordingly due to the emotionally taxing nature of their work.
He says that one way to make sure they receive more recognition is to categorize their work as “intramural teaching” rather than as a service, because services are “so often relegated to the bottom of the work of academicians and does not fully encompass the intense efforts and psychological drain of this work.”