East Tennessee State University (ETSU), home of the Quillen College of Medicine (QCOM), is doubling down on its woke DEI efforts. In fact, it’s shooting for the moon.
Last month, we reported that the dean of medicine at QCOM sent an email to university staff in response to Do No Harm gaining traction with our report that pointed out the elite DEI establishment in Tennessee’s medical schools. His message was clear: Stay focused and stay the course with ETSU’s commitment to DEI. This time, it’s Dr. Keith Johnson’s turn, VP for Equity and Inclusion.
The April 3 edition of the Office of Equity and Inclusion Newsletter sets the expectation by opening with the message that DEI efforts should be considered “long-term investments, rather than expecting an immediate turnaround.” While the initial tidal wave of diversity statements, strategic plans, implicit bias training, and establishment of DEI offices accelerated quickly in the summer of 2020, “many of those plans have not yielded positive results.” Johnson notes that employees are often “frustrated, exhausted, and even skeptical” of their DEI work being successful, and this may be due to “charging already marginalized individuals with solving or fixing their own problem.”
He goes on:
Many who are deep into DEI work often feel unsupported by peers who are not convinced that their efforts are worthwhile, or worthy of the investment, while others may demonstrate no interest in supporting the work. In addition, there are some research studies that suggest DEI initiatives can actually backfire, making prejudiced and racist behavior more likely to raise its ugly head in the workplace.
Considering all that negativity, it makes sense to abandon the DEI agenda and focus the school’s resources on more positive and productive initiatives, right?
Not at ETSU.
Forget the carrot. It’s time to get out the stick. “Just like incentives given to employees who meet or exceed established performance goals,” says Johnson, “there should be consequences as a result of not achieving those same goals.” Enter the “Moon Shot for Equity”. Policies and processes that will be scrutinized with this program include admissions, financial aid, advising, student engagement, and “climate,” with the goal of closing the “equity gaps” at ETSU.
The Moon Shot for Equity is a partnership with EAB, a private company that uses the same language Johnson used in his newsletter: “To fulfill the promise of student success,” EAB states, “we must eliminate persistent equity gaps at our colleges and universities.” ETSU’s webpage for the program hosts a video promoting EAB and the “systemic barriers to attending and graduating college” that “historically underserved students continue to face.”
ETSU’s flurry of goings-on and expensive partnerships to cement DEI concepts into its operations suggests the university is feeling the heat from the Tennessee General Assembly’s recent legislative action concerning state-funded medical education providers. House Bill 1376 and Senate Bill 817, sponsored by Rep. Ragan and Senator Hensley, specifically calls out the importance of competency-based education and training in medicine. It bans required DEI oaths, pushes back against woke national organizations, places limits on DEI-related positions at schools, and includes other necessary reforms. HB 1376/SB 817 just passed the House and Senate and will become law after Governor Lee signs it. Additionally, HB 158 and SB 102, sponsored by Rep. Zachary and Senator Gardenhire, ban implicit bias training requirements.
The initiatives of the Office of Equity and Inclusion have a direct effect on the medical education programs at ETSU’s Quillen College of Medicine. Tennessee’s lawmakers must continue their efforts to counteract the consequences of programs and actions that are based on ideology and activism instead of science and facts. Patients will insist on a moonshot for quality and skill in their future physicians and ETSU must refocus its objectives toward serving them.
Get up to speed with the threats facing healthcare – and how we’re protecting patients and physicians.
"*" indicates required fields