Last Friday, LSU President Bill Tate alerted the staff and faculty that its Division of Inclusion, Civil Rights, and Title IX has a new name: the Division of Engagement, Civil Rights, and Title IX.
Why the name change? LSU obviously took this action to counter mounting opposition to the university's DEI agenda in the state legislature. The university hopes to stave off criticism of its diversity program by simply changing the name.
LSU president Bill Tate explained the action differently in an email message. Unfortunately, me no speakie gobbledygook, so I am unable to translate it for you. I’ll quote part of the message; you can translate it yourself.
Engagement is defined in several ways. We use two forms of the definition. For us, it represents a two-way process that enables change on both sides. To fully deliver on the promise our flagship offers, we must engage with each other to exchange views and experiences and share potential solutions to our most pressing challenges. Second, engagement reflects a serious commitment. We must commit to find[ing] ways to translate our discoveries and talent to serve and elevate the state and its people.What the hell does that mean?
I draw these conclusions from LSU's diversity-and-inclusion shuffle:
First, LSU is not revising its DEI agenda; the fact that it has switched from using the word inclusion to engagement does not alter the university's obsession with race and gender.
Second, President Tate's word-salad justification for the change was probably written by the university's attorneys, which tells us that the lawyers are now running the university – not the academics.
Finally, LSU‘s rebranding of DEI shows that its leaders are cowards. If they’re fully committed to DEI, why change its name?
As I just said, I think the change was motivated by the fear that the conservative state legislature and Louisiana’s new governor will clamp down on LSU and perhaps cut its funding to punish it for its flirtation with DEI--higher education's current obsession.
LSU wants to pursue its DEI agenda without alienating its funding source. As Robert Mann observed, the move was dumb and ham-handed.
In addition, the change is a transparent act of obsequious cowardice and a sure sign that LSU has lost its way.