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At my request, the University of Michigan (UM) is currently reviewing 11 different university programs, initiatives, organizations, scholarships, and fellowships for possible violations of Title IX, the Michigan State Constitution, and UM’s own Nondiscrimination Policy. Specifically, each of the 11 cases appears to be illegally granting preferential treatment for cis women and illegally discriminating against men and gender non-conforming students, faculty and patients. You can read more about those 11 cases and my complaint here.
Inspired by the Boy Scouts’ recent change in gender policy and change in name to reflect its policy change, I am now also asking the University of Michigan to consider name changes for programs that have recently, like the Boy Scouts, transitioned from being gender exclusionary to gender inclusionary. Here’s a copy of the email that I recently sent to Pamela Heatlie, the University of Michigan’s Associate Vice-Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs and Senior Director for Institutional Equity and Title IX Coordinator:
As you know, the Boy Scouts program recently changed its name to “Scouts BSA” to reflect the recent change in the program from single-gender (boys only) to gender inclusionary (all genders) and to communicate publicly the organization’s commitment to ensuring that its programs are now truly welcoming to all genders.
Based on that important and historic precedent, perhaps the University of Michigan could consider whether name changes are also now appropriate for some programs that were also previously single-gender but have recently become gender inclusive and non-discriminatory. For example, although not exhaustive, below is a partial list of some of UM programs that have recently transitioned from being gender exclusionary (girls only, no boys allowed) to gender inclusionary (all genders, gender identities, and gender expressions now welcome):
- Girls in Engineering, Math and Sciences (GEMS) Camp (at UM-Flint).
- Girls in Science and Engineering (GISE) Camp.
- Girls Code Camp.
- Girls in Music and Technology Summer Day Camp.
If, like the Boy Scouts, UM is really committed to offering programs that are truly welcoming to students of all genders after ending its previous gender apartheid practices, then perhaps those programs would respectfully consider name changes that would communicate publicly our institution’s commitment to full gender equity, fairness, and justice. I am doubtful that most boys will ever really feel welcome in a program that was historically girls-only, and exists today with a name that reflects that history of gender apartheid and gender discrimination against them. On the other hand, if the recent changes at UM reflect only a reluctant, unenthusiastic or halfhearted attempt to ensure legal compliance while mostly (or in part) continuing past practices of gender discrimination and gender preferences, then it would be perhaps understandable that some UM programs would be unwilling to implement name changes.
Further, I would ask for a legal opinion on whether qualifying statements like the following: “While the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) programs are open to all students, they are designed to encourage and support women and girls” are in possible violation of the Michigan State Constitution that legally prohibits the University of Michigan from granting preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of sex. That is, does the qualifying statement above translate in practice into preferential treatment of [cis] women and girls over other gender identities including men? Additionally, is it a possible violation of Title IX legislation for UM to provide programs that are specifically “designed to encourage and support women and girls” in STEM (or other fields) without comparable programs that receive equivalent funding that are “designed to encourage and support men and boys” in STEM (or other fields)?
Related to these issues, recent data from The College Board show that college-bound high school girls take more math and science classes than boys, they take more AP/Honors classes in math and science than boys, they earn higher GPAs both overall and in math and science courses, and they are far more likely to graduate in the top 10% (and top 20%) of their high school classes. Therefore, female high school graduates today are entering universities with superior academic qualifications overall and a better background in math and science (STEM) classes than boys, on average. Therefore, one could make a data-supported case that if there are any math/science/STEM deficiencies that need to be addressed by UM with summer camp programs and other girls (mostly) STEM programs, that it is high school (and middle school) boys, not girls, who need those deficiencies addressed with summer camps and other STEM programs. Here’s a summary of those data for 2016 (most recent year available).
In conclusion, could you and your office please review UM’s programs that have recently become gender inclusive and specifically consider changes in the names of those programs that would, like the Boy Scouts, communicate publicly UM’s commitment to ensuring that its programs are truly welcoming and inclusive for all genders. Further, since many of those programs are still demonstrating gender preferences in their stated program goals, could you review those programs for violations of Title IX, the Michigan State Constitution, and UM’s own policy of non-discrimination? Finally, in light of evidence that clearly shows the academic superiority and greater STEM abilities and background of high school girls compared to boys, could some of those programs based on the now possibly false assumption of female deficiencies in STEM in K-12 be re-evaluated, and/or supplemented with programs to address the STEM deficiencies of high school boys?
Thank you in advance for your joint consideration of these issues.
Professor Mark J. Perry
Faculty Affiliate, Women’s and Gender Studies Program, University of Michigan-Flint
Related Issue: While I’m happy, pro bono, to do some of UM’s work advancing diversity, equity and inclusion by helping them uncover and expose civil rights violations on the Flint and Ann Arbor campuses (read about some of civil rights victories here), wouldn’t you think that the university could conduct some type of periodic audit/review of all of its programs, scholarships, fellowships, etc. to ensure continuous compliance with Title IX, the Michigan State Constitution, and UM’s own Nondiscrimination Policy? It’s not as if UM is short-staffed in the diversity, equity, and inclusion area. To the contrary, a preliminary investigation of UM’s salary database and various university websites reveals a small army of diversity, equity, and inclusion bureaucrats, see a summary table below. Here are some summary statistics and comments:
1. The University of Michigan currently employs a diversity staff of nearly 100 (93) full-time diversity administrators, officers, directors, vice-provosts, deans, consultants, specialists, investigators, managers, executive assistants, administrative assistants, analysts, and coordinators.
2. More than one-quarter (26) of these “diversicrats” earn annual salaries of more than $100,000, and the total payroll for this small army is $8.4 million. When you add to cash salaries an estimated 32.45% for UM’s very generous fringe benefit package for the average employee in this group (retirement, health care, dental insurance, life insurance, long-term disability, paid leave, paid vacation, social security, unemployment insurance, Medicare, etc.) the total employee compensation for this group tops $11 million per year. And of course that doesn’t count the cost of office space, telephones, computers and printers, printing, postage, programs, training, or travel expenses.
3. Undergraduate tuition for an in-state student in the College of Literature, Science & the Arts (LSA) last year was $14,500. Therefore, the $11 million payrolls for the 93 UM “diversicrats” could support 765 in-state students per year with full tuition scholarships!
4. Michigan’s Student Housing Office has a diversity team of at least six full-time employees, and according to an email from a former UM employee:
UM Housing has its own additional diversity army and trains students in paid positions to be “Diversity Peer Educators” in every dorm and apartment area. These students mandate compliance with the ever-changing progressive views on gender and diversity in all campus housing facilities.
5. Another email from a current UM employee alerted me to the “Office of Health Equity and Inclusion” at the Michigan Medical School, which “develops mechanisms for inclusion, diversity and cultural sensitivity among faculty, students, and staff at Michigan Medicine.” That group has a diversity team of at least 19 full-time staff with an annual payroll of nearly $1.6 million ($2.1 million with fringe benefits).
6. The average salary for a typical UM “diversicrat” is roughly $92,000. Not bad. It’s $10,000 more than the average annual salary of $82,000 for an assistant professor with a Ph.D. in the College of Literature, Science and Arts (LSA) and only $10,000 less than the average salary for an associate LSA professor of $102,000.
7. The Michigan School of Nursing recently hired its own Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at a salary of $123,600. Nationally, women earn 84.4% of bachelor’s degrees in health sciences, 82% of master’s degrees in health sciences and 59% of doctor’s degrees. You might think that the top priority of a chief diversity and inclusion officer in a School of Nursing would be greater gender diversity and inclusion, i.e., correcting the huge gender imbalance favoring women in nursing and health sciences with programs, funding, and scholarships to recruit more men. After all, greater gender diversity and inclusion in other non-nursing STEM fields is the stated goal of UM diversity efforts when females are under-represented.
For example, the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) programs are “designed to increase the number of girls and women pursuing degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics” to correct the “underrepresentation of women in technology, engineering and mathematics and in some science fields at every level of post-secondary academics.” For bachelor’s degrees in the US, the gender imbalance favoring women for degrees in health sciences (84.4%) is even greater than the gender imbalance favor men in engineering (80%). But I’m somewhat doubtful that diversity and inclusion efforts ever include correcting gender underrepresentation when it’s the male students who are under-represented in programs like nursing where women outnumber men by a factor of more than 5-to-1.
Bottom Line: With an army of nearly 100 highly paid diversity employees, UM is obviously investing a huge amount of student, parent, donor and taxpayer dollars to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. And yet its commitment to diversity apparently doesn’t include enough periodic monitoring of its own programs for compliance. It was only because of my complaints last year that UM agreed to end its practices of illegal gender and race/ethnic discrimination for five faculty awards on the Flint campus and its illegal discriminatory admission policy for a girls-only summer STEM camp. Why weren’t those programs that were in violation of federal and state civil rights laws and UM’s own policies detected internally, possibly through some type of periodic compliance audit? That these programs operated for decades in violation of federal and state civil rights laws suggests that UM’s internal controls for civil rights compliance must be rather weak, despite a diversity staff of more than 90.
As I mention above, I’m happy to provide pro bono monitoring services to UM to help uncover any systematic gender discrimination that exists today on the Ann Arbor campus, but I could use a little help from the army of nearly 100 full-time diversity employees who obviously have plenty of resources available to self-monitor campus programs like the ones in Ann Arbor that are currently under review at my request. I’m sure there are more programs that need to be reviewed to ensure compliance with state and federal civil rights law. To the UM diversity employees I say: Please help to end my part-time job as a civil rights activist fighting against discrimination at UM and for our shared goals of true equality, fairness, justice and diversity.
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