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Georgia universities rebrand, rename diversity efforts in wake of new anti-DEI regulations

One Georgia professor argues changes do not eliminate DEI in higher education  

As Georgia universities respond to new anti-Diversity, Equity and Inclusion regulations in the state, at least one outspoken scholar argues the efforts are not actually eliminating DEI.

The University System of Georgia in 2023 banned the use of DEI statements for hiring, and colleges and universities in the state were also told to discontinue the use of DEI terminology in teaching training standards.

In the wake of these changes, Georgia Tech in October announced it would embed its DEI into the school’s academic and administrative units “rather than being run out of a separate, central office.”

Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera stated in a news release the goal was to do a better job at “weaving these programs into the fabric of the Institute.”

The release added that programs and staff “will shift from the office of the Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion into the Office of the Provost, Student Engagement and Well-Being, Institute Communications, and Administration and Finance.”

At Kennesaw State University, its President Kathy Schwaig announced in a December 2023 faculty email the school will rebrand its Division of Diverse and Inclusive Excellence by renaming it to the Division of Organizational Effectiveness, Leadership Development, and Inclusive Excellence.

The current Chief Diversity Officer, Sonia Toson, will receive a title bump to vice president and be tasked with overseeing the rebranded department, stated the email, a copy of which was provided to The College Fix.

The changes at Georgia universities to respond to the anti-DEI movement not only sweeping Georgia but the nation are not really doing away with DEI, argues one scholar and outspoken higher education watchdog.

David Bray, a professor of finance at Kennesaw State University who spoke to The College Fix as a concerned Georgia taxpayer and not on behalf of his employer, said DEI is not being repealed.

“We’re giving the same person more power,” he told The College Fix in a recent video interview about the personnel change for Toson at his university. “It’s the same woke, toxic ideology.”

However, Kennesaw State University spokesperson Tammy DeMel told The College Fix “additional functions were added to the [new] division to create a broader organization focused on enhancing KSU’s culture.”

“This realignment will help us build on the momentum we’ve already achieved toward fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment,” DeMel said via email, adding the goal is “to create a more effective and inclusive institution which will enable us to further embrace the spirit of being a welcoming campus that promotes a culture of belonging.”

Bray, who in recent years has become an outspoken critic of DEI ideology in higher education, decried the notion of promoting a “culture of belonging,” arguing it is not the role of the president or a diversity officer to create a sense of belonging.

“They are not psychologists,” Bray told The Fix. “You’re not in charge of anybody’s sense of anything … you’re not clinically trained, neither am I.”

DEI administrators, Bray said, “pretend that they’re sent from above to play this thing called the god of proportionality,” adding that they believe if there is not “X amount of this type of person in this room” there must be a barrier standing in their way.

Bray has been investigated twice by KSU but said he’s come out unscathed: “When you do speak up, they back down.”

While DEI efforts are conducted under the assumption that they foster a diverse and inclusive campus, they have only caused division, Bray said.

“It’s a toxic and hostile work environment,” he said.

Bray said he plans to continue to call out DEI efforts in Georgia, adding: “My personality says, ‘I’m gay. I date a black man. You can kiss my ass and I’m coming for you.’”

MORE: 5 out of 11 University of Georgia humanities departments have zero Republican professors

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Garrett Marchand is a pre-law student at the University of Alabama majoring in political science and economics with a minor in the Blount Scholars Program. Garrett is a member of Young Americans for Freedom. He is a contributor for Alabama's student paper, The Crimson White.