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The University of Houston’s Radical DEI Bureaucracy
A taxpayer-supported school condemns the United States as a “white supremacy system.”
This is the third story in my investigative series on the DEI bureaucracy in Texas’s public universities. Legislators are currently contemplating abolishing these programs—and I hope my reporting will persuade them to do so. You can support this work with a paid subscription here.
The University of Houston has created a radical DEI bureaucracy that condemns the United States as a “white supremacy system,” castigates Christians for their “religious privilege,” and hosts sexually explicit events such as “Queer Sex After Dark” and “Sex Ed Bingo: Chance to Win a Sex Toy.”
The University of Houston is a public institution that serves more than 46,000 students, approximately 80 percent of whom are racial minorities. But for the leadership, the goal of “diversity” is an ideological, rather than demographic, project.
I have obtained documents through public-records requests that expose the university’s sprawling “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) programming, which has grown in scale and scope since the George Floyd riots in 2020.
According to these materials, the university’s DEI department has adopted the basic narrative of critical race theory, arguing that the United States is a “white supremacy system” that “create[s] advantages for whites” and “disadvantages/oppression for people of color.” In this schema, white heterosexual Christians are endowed with “white privilege,” “heterosexual privilege,” and “religious privilege,” while racial and sexual minorities are victims of “racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia.”
The university promotes a similar narrative on the axis of sexuality. Administrators at the LGBTQ Resource Center and the Women and Gender Resource Center promote the basic tenets of queer theory, which argues that American society is characterized by “heteronormativity” and “cisnormativity,” socially constructed structures of oppression that artificially elevate heterosexual and non-transgender people as the “mythical ‘norm.’” The goal of queer theory is to reduce these forms of normativity and replace them with queer-normative ideals.
To pursue these objectives, the university’s bureaucrats have created a range of race and sexuality training programs targeting student language, speech, and behavior. Students are told to be on guard against “microaggressions,” “microassaults,” “microinsults,” and “microinvalidations.” According to one presentation on “Intent vs. Impact,” colorblindness, meritocracy, and hard work are all racist concepts that should be labeled as “color-evasive racism” and the “myth of meritocracy.” What is the result of these microaggressions on racial minorities? “Rage,” “sadness,” “alienation,” “trauma,” “depression,” and “chronic mental issues.”
On sexuality, the university’s LGBTQ and gender organizations host a wide range of workshops, seminars, trainings, and events designed to disrupt heteronormativity and normalize explicit sexual themes, including the distribution of sex toys to students. The LGBTQ Resource Center, for example, recently hosted a presentation on “Queer Sex After Dark,” while the Women and Gender Resource Center has hosted a range of events, including a “Slut Shaming Workshop,” “Toxic Masculinity Workshop,” and “Sex Ed Bingo: Chance to Win a Sex Toy.” (When asked for the specific materials for these events, UH officials claimed they could not find them.)
The purpose of these exercises is to focus students on race, sexuality, and identity, with the goal of moving them toward political activism.
The first step is categorization and the confession of privilege. In one training program, administrators instruct members of the “dominant groups” to “acknowledge [their] privilege” and admit guilt: “I deny racism is a problem”; “I avoid hard questions”; “I strive to be comfortable.” In another, the university recommends that students participate in a “Privilege Walk,” in which individuals are categorized according to the intersectional hierarchy. “If you are a white male take one step forward,” the instructions read. “If your ancestors were forced to come to the United States not by choice take one step backward.”
Next, the students are encouraged to engage in a process of political education, culminating in a desire for “reducing heteronormativity” and “becoming anti-racist.” In the racial consciousness training, administrators tell students to internalize a list of affirmations that lead to explicit activism: “I education [sic] myself about race & structural racism”; “I yield positions of power to those otherwise marginalized”; “I promote & advocate for policies & leaders that are Anti-Racist.”
Observers should keep in mind that these are administrative rather than academic programs. The university’s DEI bureaucrats do not produce scholarship or participate in for-credit classroom instruction. Rather, they have figured out how to extract an ongoing public subsidy to engage in private left-wing activism.
This arrangement is clever, but not inevitable. Currently, Texas legislators are considering a bill, SB 17, that would abolish DEI bureaucracies at all state universities. According to sources in Austin, the universities have dispatched lobbyists to persuade moderate Republicans to water down the bill.
Legislators, however, should not be deterred. This is not about academic freedom or freedom of speech—neither of which applies to the work of public university bureaucrats—but simple prudence: public universities should not be conducting “privilege walks” and sex-toy giveaways at taxpayer expense. These programs do not serve the public interest and, as such, should be abolished.
Originally published in City Journal.