Legislators send letter to UNC officials over forced “equity, diversity and inclusion” training

Elements of training included “systems of oppression,” “right-handed privilege,” and “white privilege”

FILE - In this Wednesday, March 18, 2020, file photo, people remove belongings on campus at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., amid the coronavirus pandemic. As more universities keep classes online this fall, it’s leading to conflict between students who say they deserve tuition discounts and college leaders who insist remote learning is worth the full cost. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

RALEIGH — State Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) has issued a letter of inquiry to UNC Chapel Hill and UNC System officials following “equity, diversity and inclusion” training students within the Greek System were forced to attend.

“It was recently brought to my attention that the UNC Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life (OFSL) held a mandatory “equity, diversity and inclusion” training program that was presented by Christina Parle with an organization Social Responsibility Speaks (SRS),” Hardister wrote. “Based on the evidence that has been presented by the Carolina Review, the contents of this training program are divisive and offensive.”

As mentioned in the letter, Carolina Review first broke the story following several students leaking audio of the event.  The audio was not included in the Carolina Review article, but the outlet did publish excerpts on Twitter.

Reactions from students reported by Carolina Review included criticism of the university funding such a program, that students were “uncomfortable,” and that the speaker was “was projecting her identity politics onto us.”

“What this [training] does is it divides the students,” Hardister said in an interview with North State Journal. “It promotes mistrust and animosity among students.”

He also said the training is “ironic” coming from an entity that promotes diversity and inclusion and that this type of training “in fact, does the opposite.”

“My concern is that this kind of toxic training is prevalent and exists throughout the UNC System,” Hardister told North State Journal. He added he believes similar training is happening more often than anyone is aware of.

Hardister’s letter describes the items presented in the training as having an oppressor versus oppressed theme which is a tenet of the controversial Critical Race Theory.

Examples Hardister included how grocery stores are forms of oppression because some shelves might be too high for some people or how some airline seats are only made for average-sized persons. How right-handed people are privileged while left-handed people are “disempowered.” Other examples included “white privilege” and how “whiteness” pervades society.

“I think there should be a delineation between the presentation of world views and freedom of information on campus so that if there is an academic class that teaches Critical Race Theory and the tenets of Critical Race Theory and maybe juxtaposes that with other world views, I think that’s fine, but in this case, it was mandatory,” said Hardister. “It was presented as ‘this is the way things are and you need to conform to this way of thinking’.”

Hardister, who is the chairman of the General Assembly’s House Education-Universities Committee, sent the letter to UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz along with copies sent to the UNC Board of Governors, the UNC-CH Board of Trustees, and UNC System President Peter Hans.

The letter asks six questions of Guskiewicz including whether he thinks the training is appropriate or not, what dealings UNC Chapel Hill has had with SRS, and how much the program costs.

The letter also asks if the administration will be addressing concerns related to “politically motivated indoctrination” both in classes and in university-sanctioned organizations. Additionally, Hardister asks what steps will be taken to prevent the current program and future similar programs from taking place.

52 House Republicans and 15 Senate Republicans also signed the letter.

Read Rep. Hardister’s full letter.

About A.P. Dillon 533 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_