Virginia’s chief diversity officer slammed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) during a mandatory training session last week, according to The Washington Post.
Martin D. Brown, chief diversity, opportunity, and inclusion officer in Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration, spoke to VMI faculty and staff on April 21 during its mandatory Employee Inclusive Excellence Training held every year, the Post reported. He was quick to inform the audience that DEI is “dead” and that Youngkin’s philosophy is “of civil discourse, civility” and “living the golden rule.” (RELATED: ‘I Didn’t Think It Would Be This Quick’: Another Florida School Terminates Its Chief Diversity Official)
“VMI’s in a unique space … You’ve been at the tip of the spear in serving our country in sending warriors to battle, but in a way, you’re at the tip of the spear in this cultural war as well,” Brown said. “Generally, when you are focusing on equity, you’re not pursuing merit or excellence or achievement. Not all the time, but you’re looking at equal outcomes.”
VMI established its DEI office after former Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam ordered an investigation into the school and accused it of having a “clear and appalling culture of ongoing structural racism,” according to the Post. The name of the office was recently changed to The Office of Diversity, Opportunity, and Inclusion, scrapping equity from the title to reflect Brown’s position, its website reads.
“VMI appreciates the time that Chief Brown spent on post last week,” Colonel Bill Wyatt, VMI director of communications & marketing, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We look forward to our continued collaboration with his office.”
Youngkin administration says “DEI is dead” in Virginia. pic.twitter.com/chrWQNszI2
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) April 27, 2023
“The Governor is committed to Diversity, Opportunity, and Inclusion. These principles produce greater mission and organizational success, diverse speech, thought and expressions, and civil and respectful discourse,” Brown told the DCNF in a statement. “Every successful institution benefits from diversity, opportunity, and inclusion. It’s proven that institutions achieve more with a more diverse and inclusive workforce. However, equity has become a tradeoff for excellence. Our aim is to expand opportunities but not guarantee equal results.”
Members of the faculty considered Brown’s speech to be politically motivated and lacked clarity about how to incorporate DEI into their work, according to the Post.
“Faculty have a job. It’s our vocation to teach our students to have difficult conversations with different people,” one professor told the Post. “We’re a place of higher education and that’s what we have to be doing. We were there to be trained to do our jobs better — but instead we were told, ‘DEI is dead.’”
Another faculty member told the Post that people were “disappointed” in the training.
“This was a mandatory meeting, and it was a waste,” the faculty member said. “And to say that DEI is dead? He’s killed two parts of his office — diversity and inclusion. He made a case as to why he shouldn’t have a job.”
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