In 2009, Wake Forest made a strategic decision to commit to a diversity and inclusion agenda that would change the face of the University. However, this agenda went further than simply increasing the enrollment of minority students or the hiring of diverse faculty. The Strategic Plan to Foster Diversity and Inclusion and its successors ended up fundamentally changing the role of diversity and inclusion on campus and took cultural Marxist dogma from the classroom and applied to the lives of students.
The Strategic Plan
Over the past eight years, a number of centers, institutes, and programs have been created to promote diversity and inclusion, social justice, or identity development at Wake Forest. While none of these concepts seem nefarious on the surface, they come from an ideology that has been injected into student life at every level. When one hears diversity and inclusion, they probably think of equality of opportunity as an essential value. Many would agree that a school which is diverse and inclusive ensures there is an equal opportunity for all qualified students to attend and to integrate into student life.
In a 2012 prospectus, Wake Forest outlined a very different vision of diversity and inclusion. Instead of just believing in equality of opportunity, the document encourages equity, stating that, “Equity necessitates transforming our campus community to meet the needs, interests and cultural norms of our students, faculty, and staff.” By taking an equity-based view of diversity and inclusion, the University decided that its job was to allocate resources to ensure equal outcomes between different groups of students.
By adopting an equity-based approach that allocated resources based on intersectionality, Wake Forest decided to not treat students equally or based on income when allocating campus life resources. Instead, they chose to distribute resources to students based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion and not individual need.
When the University made the choice to use equity-based principles to allocate resources, they needed some kind of framework to determine which groups students were less powerful on campus and required these resources. The framework of choice for Wake Forest was intersectionality. Intersectionality is a cultural Marxist theory that organizes hierarchies of power based on identity.
The theory posits that people who are a part of a marginalized identity group, like African-Americans, women, LGBTQ individuals, and disabled individuals, are subject to different kinds of oppression like racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. However, according to intersectionality, people who carry more than one of these identities, like a lesbian African-American woman, suffer from a system of oppression that arises from their “intersecting” identities.
Through intersectionality, the University decided that those higher in the power hierarchy, namely straight white males, needed significantly fewer resources from the University than those who are lower in the hierarchy, like African-Americans, Muslims, and women. By adopting an equity-based approach that allocated resources based on intersectionality, Wake Forest decided to not treat students equally or based on income when allocating campus life resources. Instead, they chose to distribute resources to students based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion and not individual need.
Turn to the Left
Between 2009 and 2016, Wake Forest University followed its strategic plan and invested heavily in diversity and inclusion. The Office of Multicultural Affairs grew into a web of centers, institutes, offices that worked to not only provide resources to minority students but also to promote the concepts underpinning their decision making. In 2009, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion was created to oversee the growth of the diversity industrial complex at Wake Forest. The LGBTQ Center was founded in 2011, followed by the Women’s Center in 2013, the Pro Humanitate Institute and Anna Julia Cooper Center in 2014, the Intercultural Center in 2015, and the Social Justice Incubator in 2016. These centers generally have a similar format: provide valuable programs for students mixed with programming that promotes the importance of identity, intersectionality, and social justice.
Service, counseling, and mentoring programs that are extremely important to student life at Wake Forest are located within all of these centers. There are counseling and mentoring programs under both the LGBTQ and Intercultural Center that are designed to help new students adjust to life at Wake Forest and support them during their trials and tribulations in college. Almost all of the school’s service initiatives, including Campus Kitchen, Project Pumpkin, Wake N Shake, Hit the Bricks, and DESK are administered by the Pro Humanitate Institute. But outside of essential service opportunities and support systems, these centers and institutes exist to promote leftist ideology.
The sole purpose of the majority of the programming that takes place in Wake Forest’s diversity industrial complex is to promote cultural Marxism. The Intercultural Center hosts “identity development” programs for black and Latino men, black women, and Asian women. The Women’s Center has a L.E.A.V.E (Leaders who Educate, Advocate, and lift Voices for Gender Equity) program for students, where the goal is to “leave” the ever-present patriarchy behind. The LGBTQ Center hosted a speaker in 2016 that advocated for the belief that heterosexuality is “its own unique mode of engaging homosexual sex, a mode characterized by pretense, disidentification, and racialized heteronormative investments.” The Pro Humanitate Institute hosts the BRANCHES Social Justice Retreat every year, where students spend 3.5 days talking about identity. There are too many examples of leftist programming from these centers for me to highlight in this article, and if you are interested in reading more I encourage you to go look through their websites.
Long-Term Transformation of Wake Forest
The underlying goals of Wake Forest’s leftist turn were not just to offer stimulating intellectual discussions, provide support for minority students or increase the University’s diversity. It is, according to the 2012 prospectus from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, “long-term transformation,” by fundamentally changing the culture of Wake Forest. The creation of these centers and institutes have recruited or created activist students to facilitate this transformation, provided resources to enforce ideological conformity, and has divided and polarized the Wake Forest student body.
The direct result of creating the diversity industrial complex at Wake Forest is the development of leftist activists. While students often heard Marxist ideas in the classroom, now their entire college life can be based on leftism. Instead of integrating into other parts of campus, students can spend most of their time at the Pro Humanitate house, Social Justice Incubator lounge, or the Women’s Center in Benson. They can attend multiple events every week that are sponsored by these centers, go on retreats and trips, and not spend much time with other Wake Forest students. While they spend their time in these centers, students are indoctrinated with an almost religious belief in equity, intersectionality, and identitarian politics. By manufacturing this base of support, Diversity and Inclusion staff know that they will always have students agitating for their department’s growth, protesting decisions they disagree with in the administration, and giving them significantly more power on campus.
The end result of these changes is division, polarization, and strife within the student body. Conservative, moderate, and even liberal students at Wake Forest are often frustrated by the way the Office of Diversity and Inclusion has divided up our campus based on identity.
These institutions and centers also provide programming for required diversity and inclusion training for students. Beginning this year, student organizations must send one of their leaders to a “diversity education workshop” on campus in order to be recognized by Wake Forest University. Workshops so far have included: Understanding Bias, Beyond the Waves: Understanding Feminism, and LGBTQ “Safe Zone” Training. This requirement exists purely to indoctrinate students and ensure conformity when it comes to any issue surrounding diversity and inclusion. If you don’t conform, students can submit an anonymous bias report to the administration to let them handle the situation.
The end result of these changes is division, polarization, and strife within the student body. Conservative, moderate, and even liberal students at Wake Forest are often frustrated by the way the Office of Diversity and Inclusion has divided up our campus based on identity. Students are usually left with the choice to either accept leftist ideology at face value or be criticized as a racist/sexist/bigot/homophobe for even attempting to question it. But, there are still voices that are willing to point out the problems with equity, intersectionality, and social justice. We’ll know that the long-term transformation of Wake Forest is complete when those voices are silent, or no longer choose to attend institutions of higher learning because they reject free thought.