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Two Virginia Universities Scrap DEI Requirements for Graduation After Youngkin Audit

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Two Virginia Universities Scrap DEI Requirements for Graduation After Youngkin Audit
Source: Pinterest

Two Virginia Universities Scrap DEI Requirements for Graduation After Youngkin Audit

Source: Pinterest

Recently, two prominent universities in Virginia announced their plans to cancel DEI classes as a graduation requirement. They join many other universities and colleges across the country that have done the same.

The Two Universities 

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Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and George Mason University are two of the most prominent universities in the state of Virginia. Recently, both universities decided to cancel their plans to require diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) classes for their students to graduate. The universities will still offer these DEI courses, but students will now have the option of taking them or not.

Governor Youngkin’s Audit

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Both universities’ decisions came after an audit by the Governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. The audit reviewed the DEI courses at Virginia Commonwealth University, titled “Racial Literacy,” and George Mason University, titled “Just Societies.” The office of the state’s education secretary has criticized the mandatory nature of these courses, calling it a “ thinly veiled attempt to incorporate the progressive left’s groupthink.”

Votes By VCU's Board 

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After the audit, the university put the fate of its DEI courses to the Board of Visitors at Virginia Commonwealth University. The result was a 10-5 vote against making a “racial literacy course” a requirement in the General Education curriculum. According to a statement by VCU, the board decided to ensure academic freedom, flexibility, and autonomy while learning. 

ALSO READ: Study Shows LGBTQ+ Professors Are Tempted to Leave Colleges Amid Anti-DEI Laws

Free Will and Course Exploration

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VCU’s Board of Visitors Rector, Todd Haymore, also gave a statement after the university passed its decision. He said that the vote was not about the content of the courses but about the mandatory requirement for graduation. He also encouraged the school’s students to take these courses of their own free will to help them understand societal and sensitive topics. 

VCU President Support’s Decision

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The president of the VCU, Micheal Rao, also commented on the board’s recent decision. He said he fully supported the decision as he is also a faculty member. Furthermore, he added that he strongly encourages these racial literacy courses in the school and is glad the students have them readily available. Therefore, he fully backs the board’s decision. 

The Origin of DEI Curriculum Discussions

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Discussions concerning DEI curriculum additions and changes took shape after the many national protests following George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement. Therefore, these courses give a racial view to topics like education, healthcare, social justice, media, and activism, as many people experience these things differently due to their skin color. 

POLL—Should Public Schools Include Critical Race Theory and Sex Education in Their Curriculum?

VCU Board Will Welcome New Members Soon

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The VCU Board of Visitors also hopes to add new members very soon. Many of its members were appointed by Governor Youngkin himself. However, this has caused people to wonder what will happen if he appoints more people who will do his bidding without much fuss. This could significantly affect the future of the VCU decision-making process. 

Over 100 Students Walk Out

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Unsurprisingly, the new university policies were met with skepticism. While Governor Youngkin gave his address to explain the changes in the curriculum, over 100 students walked out of the commencement ceremony to show their displeasure. Due to his decisions, the students are reportedly concerned about the governor’s stance on racial matters.  

GMU’s Decision Is Delayed

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On the other hand, George Mason University has not implemented a definite decision yet. The university’s acting Provost, Kenneth D. Walsh, has a non-committal stance on its DEI policies. He also said that the university knows that it has to take a stance as registration opens for new students in a few weeks. However, he said that his answer to the implementation is “not yet.”

ALSO READ: Study Shows LGBTQ+ Professors Are Tempted to Leave Colleges Amid Anti-DEI Laws

GMU’s Board Waits

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Walsh gives a “not yet” answer rather than a definite “yes” or “no” answer because the university’s Board of Visitors is still undecided. While many of them do not agree with mandating the DEI courses, they have to wait for the opinions of the new provost and some incoming board members before they can implement a plan. 

Possible Changes at GMU

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As a new academic year approaches, George Mason University’s decision will significantly affect how things are done. As the university also prepares for new leadership, many look closely to see how things will go. Will the new provost and board members lift the requirement, or will they enforce it further?

Educational Policies in the State

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Most of the officials at the state level agree with Governor Youngkin when it comes to DEI programs in the state. Michael J. Meese, a committee member appointed by the governor, gave his opinion on this current issue. According to him, DEI only promotes “inherently divisive concepts” and should not even be present in offices or schools in any form. 

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