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The University of Michigan’s ‘Center for Racial Justice’ Misunderstands the Concept of Justice

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(kasto80/iStock/Getty Images) Will a new campus academic center produce genuine scholarship, or just produce more divisive left-wing activism?

Just before welcoming students back to campus for an in-person semester, the University of Michigan, where I am entering my junior year, announced that it is starting a “Center for Racial Justice” in its Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

Through a series of speaking events and classes for its students, the center will “expand knowledge about the complex intersections between race and public policy and create a community of leaders, scholars and students engaged in social justice work focused on racial equity,” according to an August 25 university press release.

But cut through the buzzwords and you’ll find that the new center seems geared toward incentivizing political activism in the people it teaches. It will host a “Masterclass in Activism” on October 6. The center is also launching a Racial Justice Student Initiative Fund. Through the fund, it will provide “financial support for student-led racial justice initiatives that advance a more critical understanding of the social and political conditions that impact Black, Native and Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian American and Pacific Islander peoples.”

Michigan is no stranger to funding virtue-signaling projects that ultimately lead to more racial division. We have the most employees dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion of any major American university. Despite our huge staff, students of color are no happier than those at universities with much smaller DEI departments, according to a study from the Heritage Foundation. Unfortunately, the new Center for Racial Justice looks to be yet another university project that will divide students along political lines on issues of race.

When the center says it will produce research and inspire students to act on issues that are ostensibly political, using loaded terms such as “justice” and “equity,” it is important to understand how those charged with teaching students perceive these concepts. The best way to do so is to look at their public statements and previous research.

Celeste Watkins-Hayes, the center’s director, has been vocal about her public-policy positions.

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