The University of South Florida has adopted a radical “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) program that claims America is a force for “white supremacy,” encourages students to attend racially segregated counseling programs to address their “privilege” and “oppression,” and promotes a variety of left-wing causes, including “reparations,” “defund the police,” and “prison abolition.”
I have obtained a trove of public documents exposing the university’s DEI programming, much of which, according to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, the university tried to delete from its website following Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s recent request for information on DEI in the state’s public universities.
Taken together, these materials paint a troubling picture. USF’s sprawling diversity bureaucracy has turned left-wing racialism into a new orthodoxy and implemented an administrative policy of racial preferences and discrimination. It divides individuals into categories of oppressor and oppressed, presents “anti-racism” as the solution, and proposes “racial identity development”—which, in practice, resembles a form of cult programming—as the necessary method of atonement.
The first step in this programming is the condemnation of American society. Following the 2020 death of George Floyd, nearly every appendage of USF condemned the United States as fundamentally racist. Then-president Steven Currall published a statement denouncing the “systemic racism that continues to plague our nation.” The English department attacked the United States for “centuries of normalized violence, structural oppression, and dehumanizing rhetorics that target Black, Brown, and Indigenous people.” The School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies blasted America for its “institutionalized, structural racism and white supremacy.” The anthropology department assailed its own discipline for being “rooted in racism.” The department of sociology pronounced on the “interlocking systems of oppression found throughout the institutions of our country.” Literacy studies, women’s and gender studies, engineering, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health, and other departments released similar statements.
Then the university’s DEI administrators offered the solution: racial reeducation.
In the aftermath of the ensuing George Floyd riots, the USF Counseling Center offered racially segregated counseling sessions for “Black & African American,” “People of Color,” and “White” students, providing a “healing space for POC to discuss unique impacts of systemic racism” and a “connecting space for allies to share experiences and identify ways to take action against racism.” The goal of these psychological conditioning sessions, according to organizers, was to address “COVID-19, xenophobia, killings of unarmed Black people, systemic racism, privilege, oppression, and institutional challenges.” In this kind of programming, individuals are subordinated to racial categories; ideology serves as a substitute for psychological health.
Meantime, the university’s DEI officers reinforced the narrative and offered a battery of resources for racial reconditioning. The Office of Multicultural Affairs published an official guidebook, “Anti-Racist Resources: The Unlearning of Racism and White Supremacy,” that promoted psychological approaches to “white identity development.” The premise of these programs is simple: whites suffer from “white privilege,” “white guilt,” and “white fragility.” And the solution is clear: whites must atone for their oppression through the process of “racial identity development” and “becoming an active anti-racist.”
According to one of these programs, called “Scaffolding Anti-Racist Resources,” whites must first admit their complicity in racism, which includes “being confronted with active racism of real-world experiences that highlight their whiteness.” Whites will then enter the process of “disintegration,” experiencing “white guilt” and thinking, “I feel bad for being white.” Next, after their racial identity is broken down, they will enter a phase of “reintegration,” thinking, “it’s not my fault I’m white” and beginning to engage in left-wing political activism.
Finally, as whites move through the stages of “pseudo-independence” and “immersion,” they will begin to “work against systems of oppression” and “use [their] privilege to support anti-racist work.” At the end of the program, their psychology should conform entirely to political ideology. As the final step, whites must answer various loyalty tests. “Does your solidarity last longer than a news cycle?” the training asks. “Does your solidarity make you lose sleep at night? Does your solidarity put you in danger? Does your solidarity cost you relationships?”
The endpoint of USF’s DEI programming is left-wing political activism. As part of the university’s official “anti-racist” guidebook, diversity officials included materials promoting “reparations,” “defund the police,” and “prison abolition.” One resource, “97 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice,” instructs whites to “join a local ‘white space,’” “donate to [their] local BLM chapter,” “participate in reparations,” and “decolonize [their] bookshelf.” Another, “For Our White Friends Desiring to Be Allies,” demands that whites “stop talking about colorblindness” and stop oppressing those “who do not believe in a white, capitalist Jesus.”
Taken as a whole, USF’s DEI initiatives resemble practices of cult initiation. The path of “racial identity development” does not take as its endpoint individual psychological health but the submersion of the individual into political ideology. Whites are designated an oppressor class, born with racial guilt that can only be expiated through elaborate rituals and commitments to left-wing activism, to the point that they are alienated from previous relationships and feel compelled to “change the way [they] vote,” “denounce [President Trump],” and “change how [they] read [their] Bible.”
At a more practical level, the implementation of DEI ideology at USF has already resulted in a system of widespread racial preferences and discrimination. The university openly promotes racial quotas in hiring and requires potential faculty to submit “diversity statements”—best understood as loyalty oaths to left-wing racialism—to be considered for employment. The university’s Office of Supplier Diversity administers a system of racial and sexual preferences in contracting, instructing its “Diversity Champions” to hire vendors and suppliers based on identity, rather than on purely economic concerns. The university also promotes a range of racially segregated scholarships that explicitly exclude white students—the only racial group that receives such treatment. These “diversity, equity, and inclusion” programs are a farce. In practice, they promote ideological conformity, racial and sexual discrimination, and the exclusion of any group that finds itself on the wrong side of the identity hierarchy. Governor DeSantis, who recently pledged to defund DEI programs in Florida’s public universities, should not hesitate in demolishing these offices, terminating the employment of their commissars, and restoring colorblind equality, individual merit, and scholarly excellence as the guiding principles of the academy.
Originally published in City Journal.