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Critics call Nebraska colleges’ diversity offices wasteful

November 3, 2018 GMT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska universities are following a national trend in hiring diversity leaders, but many critics are calling diversity offices wasteful and unnecessary.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln plans to hire its first vice chancellor of diversity and inclusion soon, while Creighton University hired its first vice provost for institutional diversity and inclusion this year. The University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha are partnering to hire an assistant vice chancellor for inclusion next year, the Omaha World-Herald reported .

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“Throughout the state the demographics are changing,” said Donde Plowman, executive vice chancellor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “We hope to recruit those students to the university. Thus having strategic leadership around diversity and inclusion is all the more important.”

Many higher education leaders view diversity positions as a natural response to growing minority enrollments and the feeling of isolation expressed by some minority students. Diversity vice presidents and vice chancellors can also work to increase the number of minority faculty members and students.

But critics see the roles as an expensive homage to political correctness.

Sen. Steve Erdman and Sen. Mike Groene have criticized diversity offices as unnecessary budget burdens.

Groene recently called the Nebraska University system’s plans to hire diversity officers a “waste of tax dollars.”

“In rural Nebraska, we’re not racists or bigots,” said Groene, who’s also the chairman of the Legislature’s Education Committee. “We don’t care what your ethnicity is.”

Erdman has said a vice chancellor for diversity “won’t diversify the faculty.” He also said that diversity officers “are always charged with the task of helping disadvantaged students,” which results in discrimination “against those who are perceived or misperceived as having some kind of advantage.”

Erdman has said that diversity offices push liberal agendas and work against conservatives.

Jabin Moore, a sophomore at University of Nebraska at Omaha, said he experiences “hyper-visibility” as a black man when racial topics come up on the predominantly white campus. Moore said he’s never had a black professor in his business administration major, but called the university’s hiring of an assistant vice chancellor for inclusion an “awesome” step.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com