Are Oklahoma’s taxpayer-funded universities pushing divisive and even discriminatory ideas?
That’s what Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters asked all 25 state colleges and universities in a January letter. It’s a valid question, given the politicization of higher education, and the truth is essential to ensuring that Oklahoma’s higher education provides the best possible learning experience. Yet the superintendent – as well as Gov. Stitt and state lawmakers – may want to pay special attention to places hardly anyone expects: Oklahoma’s medical schools.
Superintendent Walters is seeking details on “every dollar” state schools are spending on “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” as well as how many staff are devoted to this issue. DEI, as it’s known, is part of the political narrative that society suffers from “systemic racism.” It demands a greater focus on people’s skin color instead of their character or individual characteristics. DEI has even been used to justify policies like preferential treatment by race, which is racial discrimination by another name.
Such toxic ideas have no place in higher education, much less anywhere else. That’s why it’s so concerning that Oklahoma medical schools have embraced this ideology so thoroughly. Put simply, it threatens the quality of education future physicians receive, and the quality of care they will provide to patients for the rest of their careers.
My organization has spent the past year investigating the extent to which education has been replaced by indoctrination at medical schools. Consider what’s happening at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, which we’ve investigated using the state’s freedom of information law.
We found that the OU’s medical school has a department fully dedicated to advancing DEI within the institution, with frequent communication to faculty, staff, and students alike. There’s a permanent bureaucracy pushing divisive ideas on everyone, taking time and resources away from real medical education.
What’s more, the OU medical school now hires and promotes faculty based on their work on DEI. That’s a political litmus test that has nothing to do with medicine, and everything to do with forcing educators to toe the party line. Faculty should be hired based on their ability to teach and research at the highest level, not whether they hold specific views.
Other medical schools are offensive, too. OU’s Tulsa School of Community Medicine offers a course and stipend that are only available to students of particular races – and whites aren’t allowed. That’s racial discrimination, which is why we’ve filed a civil rights complaint with the federal government. We’ve also asked the feds to investigate 12 schools – including Oklahoma State University and the University of Tulsa – that participate in a recruitment program based solely on race. Federal authorities are already investigating such discriminatory practices in other states, for good reason.
Taxpayers – and just as important, patients – have every right to be worried. In other states, DEI has been used to justify ongoing indoctrination in medical schools, taking precious time away from helping students learn how to provide the best care. And we’ve even seen university teaching hospitals announce plans to give minority patients preferential access to care – an overt example of racial discrimination that will lead to worse health outcomes for countless patients.
Oklahomans deserve to know exactly how far the state’s medical schools have gone down this radical road. This issue goes well beyond the quality of the education they provide. Ultimately, it affects the health and well-being of everyone who will one day be treated by the physicians these institutions teach. Here’s hoping Oklahoma can cure this corruption of medical schools, along with the rest of higher education.
Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a former associate dean of curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, is chairman of Do No Harm.
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