The University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine will expand its diversity, equity, and inclusion practices as part of its upcoming strategic plan, according to the college’s response to a survey from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Larner College of Medicine scored 58.4 percent in the AAMC Diversity, Inclusion, Culture, and Equity (DICE) Inventory, indicating it could be fairly devoid of ideological indoctrination – especially when compared to other participating medical schools. But Vermont’s only medical school plans to adopt an array of concerning policies to raise its position in the AAMC’s DEI rubric.
The DICE Inventory results from Larner were part of a larger effort by the AAMC to pressure medical schools across the country to embrace controversial policies that discriminate against faculty and students on the basis of race, ethnicity, and other identity-based characteristics. A report by the AAMC revealed that the vast majority of medical schools have codified radical identity politics into official school policies. These policy changes have continued despite growing evidence of their divisive and antagonistic effects on the cultures of companies, schools, and other institutions.
The AAMC report relies on an extensive survey of medical schools across the country, but the report failed to reveal which specific schools participated.
The lack of transparency by the AAMC and participating institutions has left communities and policymakers alike in the dark about major policy shifts occurring within taxpayer-funded medical schools. As part of a national effort to bring transparency and accountability to medical schools, Do No Harm has sought access to the school-specific DICE Inventory documents submitted to the AAMC through freedom of information requests to publicly funded medical schools. These surveys provide invaluable insight into the extent to which our once-highly-trusted medical colleges have strayed from their foundational mission to educate capable and qualified doctors.
Here are some of the practices that Larner College of Medicine has embraced:
- Larner has adopted potentially racially discriminatory admissions practices under the guise of “holistic admissions practices.”
Under an “holistic” admissions approach, different (and often lower) academic standards are typically set for candidates based on immutable “diversity” characteristics like race and ethnicity. These practices can be used to systematically discriminate against more qualified applicants who do not belong to a set of identities that were deemed by university bureaucrats to need unequal, favorable treatment by the institution.
Under this policy, Vermont’s taxpayers are funding programs that disadvantage people of certain racial and ethnic backgrounds. In particular, it would disadvantage more than nine out of ten in-state residents based on state demographic statistics.
- Larner has a “dedicated office, staff, or resources” dedicated to DEI that is led by a senior-level administrator.
This means there’s a permanent woke bureaucracy pushing ideology on faculty, students, and other top administrators. In addition to consuming substantial resources that could otherwise be used for academics, these programs rarely measure meaningful, long-term outcomes for the students they serve. Instead, they pursue politically motivated activities within the university and the broader community.
- Larner requires candidates for faculty positions to document their commitment and contributions to DEI as part of the hiring process.
Hiring policies that compel potential faculty members to produce written loyalty oaths to DEI ideology are antithetical to academic and intellectual freedom. Moreover, these practices undermine efforts to hire faculty based on their scholarly qualifications.
Figure 1. DEI initiatives at Larner College of Medicine.
Larner College of Medicine’s DEI policies warrant concern from the medical community, policymakers, and the public. While it is true that Larner has far fewer DEI-oriented policies and practices than many of its peer institutions, there are a number of reasons that policymakers and the public should remain vigilant.
First, the survey conducted by the AAMC did not weight the survey questions based on their relative impact on DEI-oriented institutional culture. Thus, a medical school’s low survey score does not necessarily indicate an absence of egregious DEI practices such as some of those enumerated above; rather, a low score could result from losing points on less controversial practices, such as not collecting copious amounts of demographic data for hiring and promotions. To some degree, this appears to be the case with Larner College of Medicine.
Second, Larner College of Medicine states in their DICE Inventory that they intend to include an expansion of specific DEI goals in the school’s upcoming strategic plan, Vision 2025. Since the release of the survey, Larner has delivered on that promise: DEI goals account for 20 percent of the school’s objectives across clinical, educational, research, and community strategic priorities.
Figure 2. Values statement of the Larner College of Medicine.
Finally, the most concerning aspect of Larner’s rollout of DEI is the school’s efforts to obfuscate its activities and thwart transparency. Case in point: Larner College of Medicine repeatedly refused to accommodate freedom of information requests from Do No Harm regarding its DICE Inventory submitted to the AAMC. Larner did eventually comply and release their survey, but the public deserves better cooperation from taxpayer-funded universities.
This sort of opacity from a publicly funded institution is as predictable as it is unacceptable. It is imperative that communities not only demand that medical institutions like Larner desist from these divisive, discriminatory, and reckless DEI policies, but that their administrators make a concerted effort to be more accommodating and transparent to the public.
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