UCLA's Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: How Much Money is Funding it, and What Does it Actually Do? - Part 1
In light of the recent UC audit revealing excessive salaries to its employees, I conducted a thorough research investigation on UCLA’s Office of Equity Diversity and Inclusion.
In this three-part expose of UCLA’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, I will go through the various facets of the university’s attempts to instill their political agenda throughout the campus and even into the personal lives of students. The shocking amount of money allocated to the office, as well as how much of that money could be used for programs that actually assist students.
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) receives a budget of approximately $6.7 billion on a yearly basis. This money goes towards funding the various facilities on campus, research programs, paying faculty and employees as well as many other functions of the university. Being one of the two flagship schools of the UC system, UCLA is always trying to maintain its image as a top notch University. It has dozens of programs that have been created to assist students in their academic endeavors.
One office that has been created only recently is the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Millions of dollars go to fund this office, whose job is to increase the amount of ethnic diversity on campus. The fact that California Proposition 209 is still in effect, which disallows affirmative action of any kind to be implemented at public universities, has made it difficult for UCLA to maintain their desired ethnic diversity in the student body.
The title of the office, “Equity, Diversity and Inclusion,” has a nice ring to it and claims in its mission statement to “Build an equal learning and working environment, by holding ourselves accountable to our professed ideals.” However, it is unclear how the Diversity Office is doing so. In fact, many students are probably unaware of what the Diversity Office actually does with the millions of dollars that they are given annually.
The Diversity Office's website claims that its operations are designed to “Connect and communicate with internal and external constituencies, through multiple media; provide clear information, prompt responses, informed analyses, and conceptual framings. Information flows both ways, which means that we are also listening and learning with every engagement.” However, this statement, fully analyzed through its use of colorful language, still doesn't explain what the office does.
It further goes on to say that the office investigates complaints of discrimination and issue written findings. It then utilizes those findings to prevent discrimination and sexual harassment from happening. The amount of discrimination against ethnic minorities at UCLA is very minimal. Therefore, these operations are hardly ever put to use. That leaves many wondering whether the Office, however well intentioned, is truly deserving of the tens of millions of dollars paid for through tax revenue.
Numerous examples of the Office's actions include the incident in fall 2015 which the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity hosted a party themed after rapper Kanye West, in which party goers dressed in similar baggy clothing as he does. In addition to that party goers also dressed as gold-miners with fake soot on their face to pay homage to his song “Gold Digger.”
Many however mistook the costumes as blackface and filed complaints to the university demanding action be taken. The University at the behest of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion temporarily suspended the fraternity without conducting an investigation.
Another incident that occurred was when followers of conservative activist David Horowitz placed posters on campus calling the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) as supporters of a terrorist agenda, as they are in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks to impose sanctions on Israeli companies and institutions for Israel's presence in the West Bank. Horowitz's stated goals were to “embarrass members of the MSA and SJP.”
Vice Chancellor Kang threatened to take legal action against Horowitz for allegedly violating university policies against unauthorized graffiti and posters. In addition to this, In an email to the entire campus community, Kang asserted that Horowitz's posters accused students on campus of being murderers and terrorists. It also alleged that the names, phone numbers and addresses of members of the organization were on the posters that claimed that they were terrorists.
Following this, Horowitz's attorney sent a letter to Kang demanding an apology and to retract his statements, which turned out to be politically twisted and included portions that were entirely false, such as the names, phone numbers and addresses of the members of the two organizations. In contrast to this incident, on February 13th, 2017, a member of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Felipe Bris Abejón, released a political cartoon for the Daily Bruin, UCLA's student newspaper depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that he would break the “thou shalt not kill” commandment after stealing supposed Palestinian lands.
The SJP came out in condemnation of the cartoon after it got media attention and ridicule. They claimed that Abejón was not a member of their organization and they condemn anti-semitic language. However, it turns out that Abejón was in fact the UCLA SJP's education and resources director. Yet, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was largely silent on this matter.
An even more disturbing case in which Jerry Kang's office participated in siding with The Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was a case involving UCLA's Graduate Student Association President Milan Chatterjee, who refused to allocate campus funds to an event either supporting or opposing the State of Israel. Chatterjee was trying to take a neutral position on this matter and received flack for it by the SJP, who brought on the assistance of Palestine Legal (PL) and the ACLU to intimidate Chatterjee with legal action.
The Administration of UCLA did not defend Chaterjee's position on neutrality but instead, the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion assisted the SJP by taking part in investigating fabricated allegations that Chatterjee violated the university ethics code.
In a letter to the university, Chatterjee explained that he did nothing to violate the university ethics code and was the target of a politically motivated witch hunt. In the midst of the drama, Chatterjee left UCLA to finish his final year of graduate school at a different institution.
These examples show the power that Kang's office has over the campus community and how taxpayers’ money and tuition is funding the politically motivated agenda of the diversity office. In the case of the fraternity's alleged blackface, Kang's office and the University suspended Sigma Phi Epsilon for something that was never proven.
Even if the fraternity did have a blackface party, it’s not the University's place to suspend activities of a fraternity if their actions are not actually harming anyone. In addition to this, what fraternities do on the private property of their houses should not be subject to the University's politically motivated rules and regulations.
In the three cases pertaining to Students for Justice in Palestine, the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion was conducting a biased political witch hunt on those either criticizing SJP or even trying to remain neutral on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. It is clear in all these cases the Diversity Office was acting with an intentional political bias in favor of the SJP and not the opposing party.
The office is meant to be an impartial institution whose goal is supposedly to combat discrimination, yet it seems to only do so for select groups that align with its political biases.
In Part Two, I will go into the actual budget numbers that the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion actually receives. This will include how much is utilized for their activities as well as salaries and other benefits for the office’s staff.