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UNC School Of Medicine’s New Strategy For Keeping DEI Alive

In the face of public exposure of DEI programs that sought to “integrate social justice into the curriculum with anti-racist components,” the University of North Carolina School of Medicine has since backtracked a number of its public commitments to the ideology.

On February 23, 2023, the University of North Carolina Board of Governors banned mandatory diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) statements from admissions, hiring, promotion, and tenure processes. The board’s resolution asserts that the University of North Carolina “shall neither solicit nor require an employee or applicant for academic admission or employment to affirmatively ascribe to or opine about beliefs, affiliations, ideals, or principals regarding matters of contemporary political debate or social action as a condition to admission, employment, or professional advancement.”

On May 11, 2023, in a public letter, UNC wrote that it will not implement one of its DEI Task Forces. Then, on June 16, UNC effectively watered down its public stance on another DEI Task Force to the point where it refused to defend any of its recommendations.

Although UNC’s public reversals on DEI are welcome, we can’t let them off the hook yet. UNC has gone so far as to deny that they had ever implemented policies that conditioned promotional prospects or financial incentives on advocacy for DEI principles of anti-racism and gender theory. It writes in the June 16th letter, “The SOM Task Force did not result in the medical school faculty being assessed in the area of social justice.”

Evidence gathered by my non-profit advocacy group Color Us United suggests this statement is not true.

Back when DEI was all the rage in health sciences, UNC’s own DEI Officers publicly bragged that participation in “unconscious bias trainings” (one of the cornerstones of UNC’s DEI program) was tied to UNC employees’ financial compensation. In an audit of UNC’s DEI programs, authors who had been working for UNC wrote that “participation in these training activities is now tied to incentive compensation of departmental leaders” after the release of UNC’s Task Force to Integrate Social Justice.

Talks with senior UNC Medical staff confirm this account. One senior UNC Medical official shared a note that he was required to take training conducted by the Racial Equity Institute (REI), an anti-racism advocacy organization. Another UNC Health doctor, orthopedist Bill Andersen M.D., testified that “with sensitivity training for all and quick dismissal of anyone who offends another because of the other person’s ‘lived experience,’ DEI personnel dictate what everyone can say and do at work.”

DEI is additionally baked right into the financial package that UNC Health staff receive for their work. Although 85% of a staff members’ package is guaranteed, the other 15% is contingent upon a staff member’s willingness to participate in UNC’s “organizational goals” — one of which is DEI.

UNC’s Organizational Goals. Source: Freedom of Information Act.

Although DEI doesn’t form the entirety of the 15% of pay that could be cut off, it is an emphasis in UNC staff trainings and one staff member tells me: “It may be theoretically possible to attend 80% of the weekly meetings [on organizational goals] and skip the DEI-specific sessions but it would likely be noticed and pointed out.”

There is simply no question that doctors and UNC Med School faculty have been assessed based on their participation and enthusiasm with DEI activities.

Why is this so chilling? Because instead of seeing rewards based strictly on their performance, UNC faculty see their ability to get promoted contingent upon side constraints of compliance. Doctors feel pressure to demonstrate conformity to UNC’s organizational goals of DEI, distracting them from their work.

“The most important issue should be educational excellence but it’s the one thing missing in all these DEI policies,” said Dr. Nche Zama, a world-renowned cardiothoracic surgeon assisting Color Us United with our campaign to fight UNC’s DEI policies. And he is exactly right. UNC doctors should have as few distractions from professional excellence as possible. And DEI activity, by focusing exclusively on gender, race, and political activism, rather than the care of an individual patient, is a huge distraction.

My organization Color Us United will continue to monitor, expose, and present on UNC School of Medicine’s DEI Policies, calling them out for bald-faced lying when necessary, and making sure the school lives up to its vested commitment to North Carolinians to provide the best quality healthcare, bar none.

This July, at its next faculty meeting, trustees have informed me that the UNC School of Medicine will present on their DEI programs. Following their presentation, I will counter-present and independently verify the claims they will make to the trustees.

From there, UNC School of Medicine has an opportunity to formally renounce DEI and embrace meritocracy and excellence. The school’s leaders have a very important choice to make, one that could change the course of modern medicine in America. They can choose to stay in line with the seeming status quo in medicine and watch the quality of their institution decline, or they can be bold. They can take a firm stand against DEI and become the nation’s leading medical school, championing freedom of thought and meritocracy over political correctness, and paving a better future for medicine.

I look forward to seeing what direction they will take.

Kenny Xu is the President of Color Us United and the author of the book “School of Woke.”

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire. 

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