UNC Chapel Hill the latest college to defund DEI

In mid-2022, I began to speculate that we were nearing “peak woke” — and I had more than a few anecdotes to back my case.

As the months ticked on, more evidence accumulated. Then, late last year, Harvard University’s Claudine Gay scandal made global headlines. It was an event that I believe marked the high tide of wokeness in its most distilled essence: the DEI campus bureaucracy.

Now, it appears that nothing can stop the bleed. According to a recent NBC News analysis, more than 30 states have introduced bills banning or restricting DEI claptrap at public colleges.

The state of Florida is the most high-profile of these; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill the most recent.

News that the board of trustees at UNC’s flagship campus had voted unanimously to cut all DEI funding hit the news on Monday. And it came with a little added flair: if approved by the full board next week, the entire $2.3 million in question will be diverted to police to keep the campus safe.

The decision followed ugly anti-Israel demonstrations at UNC Chapel Hill that involved clashes with police and dozens of protesters being detained.

Among the oldest of America’s public universities, Chapel Hill also played host to one of the most iconic photos of the 2024 campus riots, as a large group of "frat boys" stepped in to protect the American flag from being replaced with a Palestinian one.


According to The News & Observer, key UNC leaders have been vocal about the vote to dismantle the college’s DEI bureaucracy:

Board Chair David Boliek told The News & Observer he expected jobs would be eliminated as a result of the reallocation.

My personal opinion is that theres administrative bloat in the university,” he said. … Any cuts in administration and diverting of dollars to rubber-meets-the-road efforts like public safety and teaching is important.”

Trustee Marty Kotis said law enforcement needed the money following pro-Palestinian campus protests that began last month and resulted in several arrests.

Its important to consider the needs of all 30,000 students, not just 100 or so that may want to disrupt the universitys operations,” he said

Boliek said the policy was in consideration before the protests began.

The move comes as the UNC Board of Governors, which governs all public universities in the state, is expected to vote on restricting DEI programs statewide next week. The boards governance committee already passed the policy last month, but it must be approved by the full board before taking effect.



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“I think that DEI is divisive. I don’t think it's productive,” Boliek has also explained. “I don’t think it gives a return on investment to taxpayers and to the institution itself.”

I think that DEI in a lot of peoples minds is divisiveness, exclusion and indoctrination,” Kotis has added. “We need more unity and togetherness, more dialogue, more diversity of thought.”

Public support

As expected, the chattering class has been critical of UNC Chapel Hill’s DEI divestment decision, but the vote has attracted widespread praise from the public, with announcements on X (formerly Twitter) attracting millions of impressions.

Governor Greg Abbott, who led the charge against DEI in Texas, was likewise glowing about the news, tweeting, “This is the way.”

The brains behind much of the conservative pushback against DEI is filmmaker and activist Christopher Rufo, who, following this week’s news, suggested the end is nigh for racialised ideology in America’s schools of higher learning:

Lord, hasten the day.

What do you think of the latest developments at American colleges? Leave your comments in the box below. 

Kurt Mahlburg is a writer and author, and an emerging Australian voice on culture and the Christian faith. He has a passion for both the philosophical and the personal, drawing on his background as a graduate architect, a primary school teacher, a missionary, and a young adult pastor.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


Showing 11 reactions

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  • mrscracker
    Hello Angela,
    It’s true that “race” has been a bit of an obsession in the States but these days that’s more of a generational thing.
    Wokeness has its own obsessions, but as far as “mixed race” couples & families, young people are increasingly marrying whoever they choose. I mostly find it’s the elderly who are bothered about that. Young people have moved on. Which is a good thing.
    “Race” itself is an ideological construct & one that should be left behind with phrenology, eugenics & other quack science of that era.
  • David Page
    commented 2024-05-19 09:55:37 +1000
    One wonders if it wouldn’t have been better to let the South cecede. They never understood the American experiment, or the Constitution. And they are mostly reliant on the North for their financial stability.
  • David Page
    commented 2024-05-18 18:08:09 +1000
    Julian, I agree, mostly. But in the red states it is a cover for obvious racial intent.
  • David Page
    commented 2024-05-18 18:06:34 +1000
    Kurt, don’t twist that arm patting yourself on the back.
  • Kurt Mahlburg
    commented 2024-05-18 10:15:06 +1000
    Great to see such a lively discussion here! Always happy to lob a cat amongst the pigeons :)
  • Angela Shanahan
    commented 2024-05-18 09:58:00 +1000
    Americans are obsessed with race. I remember years ago asking a black friend studying at Columbia, why he wasn’t proud that his ancestors had come to the United States as slaves, as he was now studying at one of America’s most prestigious universities. ( in fact he became a very famous writer). He reacted in a most peculiar way, berating me for even suggesting that anyone could be ’ proud’ of a slave background. I did point out to him that my own Australian mother’s ancestry was from a 14 year old boy who was transported to Tasmania in chains. But I still find it odd that that it is necessary to bewail the slave past, and make continuous victimhood out of it , demanding reparations etc. when so many have risen above all that.

    Also, although I think a multi cultural society like America is fascinating and diversity of cultural background brings great richness to an immigrant society like the US and ours, I find the American tendency to stay in your ethnic ‘box’ despite years and generations of integration rather a pathetic show of confected ’ individualism.’ Australia had a strict policy of assimilation, in the past which could be very oppressive and restrictive in minor every day ways. (For example, my father who was originally Italian could not speak to his brother in that language ina bus, or he without being told off. In fact they daren’t speak it even walking down the street!) A more multi cultural approach coming from a policy like that is different from the type of confected ’diversity ’ which would employ someone because of an ethnic or indigenous back ground without the necessary qualifications. Pretty obvious really.
    I am not sure what any of this has to do with a bunch of ignorant nincompoops trying to hoist Palestinian flags, but I DO remember when the same type of rowdy campus protests happened in the past and they were waving North Vietnamese flags,!
  • Tim Lee
    Julian, thank you for your insider’s perspective. Your insight is one of the most thoughtful I have ever read on the issue of students jumping onto the woke bandwagon.

    The old woke was about awakening to systemic injustice. The new woke is about revolutionary upending of the old order for a new order to arise from its ashes, creating worse injustice in its wake. It’s also about inverse snobbery.

    “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.” ~ Ibram Kendi in How to Be an Antiracist
  • Julian Farrows
    commented 2024-05-18 05:26:43 +1000
    @David_Page: Opposition to DEI practices are not necessarily rooted in racial antagonism. As a university administrator I have often lamented the fact that students who are clearly not college-ready are encouraged to take on large amounts of debt only to fail after two or three years of college. This is a phenomenon known as academic swirl whereby students who are clearly not functioning in academia are left to fend for themselves and then forced to quit when they run out of money.

    Not only that, but they take up valuable resources: classroom space, faculty time and energy, remediation etc. As a result many faculty find themselves under pressure to dumb down their curricula in order to accommodate these students. Moreover, as DEI practices expand so too do the costs. I made myself unpopular once by asking why we couldn’t transfer the $100,000 salary for a newly-made DEI officer position into scholarship funds for less well-off students.

    A larger problem now taking shape is how the language of DEI has been subsumed into the mainstream culture. Many of the protests taking place at elite universities are not because students are necessarily worried about the plight of the Palestinians (many of them couldn’t point to Palestine or Israel on a map), but because the conflict neatly fits into their taught epistemology of the oppressed/oppressor framework. Years of Critical Race Theory have taught students that their skin color or circumstances of birth afford them a level of privilege not enjoyed by their non-white counterparts (regardless of personal wealth or rank), and that this makes them complicit or guilty of creating and reinforcing inequality. The Gaza conflict has created the perfect outlet of this internalized sense of guilt. Instead of blaming themselves for being white supremacist oppressors students now have the perfect scapegoat: the Jews. All this built-up guilt and resentment can be conveniently transferred on to the Other.

    No matter what it says on the box, DEI is really a deeply undemocratic race-ideology masquerading as a civil rights movement. It is based on intellectually dubious (and rather violent) scholarship that casts itself in such a way that any who oppose it must be of the same ilk of those who fanatically believe in white racial supremacy.

    I understand that in the US, it looks like it’s the ‘other side’ that is causing all the problems, but looking at complex issues in this way only serves to muddy the waters. Like many well-intentioned causes in the US, DEI was a good idea, but one that was taken way too far.
  • mrscracker
    Good news. Thank you for sharing this.
  • David Page
    commented 2024-05-16 10:56:19 +1000
    As I said, racism is the core of American conservatism.
  • Kurt Mahlburg
    published this page in The Latest 2024-05-16 10:42:04 +1000