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UNC System spending on diversity, equity, and inclusion training nearly $2M

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(The Center Square) – Eleven schools in the University of North Carolina system have spent nearly $2 million on diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings in recent years, expenses set to become illegal under legislation passed by the General Assembly this session.

Public information requests from The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal on employee training sent to the UNC system and its 16 constituent institutions netted a dozen responses that provide a snapshot of spending.

The requests echo a letter for the same information the General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Commission on Government Operations sent to schools in March for all employee trainings, required or voluntary, and the total cost since 2019.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion centers on the theory institutions and universities are irredeemably racist or sexist and focuses on a victim-oppressor framework through an ideologically left-leaning lens. The Racial Equity Institute that conducted many of the trainings explains on its website that “racism is a fierce, ever-present, challenging force, one which has structured the thinking, behavior, and actions of individuals and institutions since the beginning of U.S. history.”

Conservatives have rejected the premise as liberal indoctrination.

Responses from the UNC System and 11 of its schools – there are no reports for Appalachian State, East Carolina, Elizabeth City State, Fayetteville State and North Carolina Central – shows nearly $2 million was spent on trainings over the last four years. Nearly half, $935,294, was at UNC Chapel Hill, which recently lost an affirmative action case at the U.S. Supreme Court.

In total, Carolina conducted 207 training sessions, 32 denoted as required, on a range of issues, from microaggressions and implicit bias, to name pronunciation and white supremacy.

UNC Greensboro spent $467,226 on 26 trainings, 10 required. N.C. State spent $237,376 on 88 training sessions, three of which were required.

Spending at other schools include $115,345 at UNC Wilmington for 88 sessions; $66,199 at UNC Charlotte for 21 trainings; $44,292 at Western Carolina for 23 trainings; $41,790 at UNC School of the Arts for 17 sessions; $41,350 at UNC Asheville for 38 sessions; and $30,250 at N.C. A&T for 41 trainings.

Spending information was incomplete for the UNC System (four trainings, one required); UNC Pembroke (19 trainings, 14 required); and Winston-Salem State (24 trainings, none required).

According to a Martin Center report, “Many trainings at responding institutions are staff-created, which means they do not cost as much (if anything), at least according to traditional measures. Nevertheless, UNC institutions are paying for employees’ time. If a staff member spends a week (or longer) creating a DEI training, he or she hasn’t spent that time doing useful work.”

The data released by the Center on Tuesday follows a vote by the UNC Board of Governors in February to ban diversity, equity, and inclusion statements and compelled speech from admissions and employment decisions.

Lawmakers in the General Assembly also overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 364 last month to outlaw compelled speech; and diversity, equity, and inclusion statements and trainings in government, which applies to state universities and community colleges when the law goes into effect Dec. 1.

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