‘Woke’ faculty outraged over Penn State nixing $3.5M racial justice center, braking on diversity policies

The stranglehold of Marxist ideology may have loosened at a Pennsylvania university, if only briefly, as faculty expressed outrage at the cancelation of planned construction on a $3.5 million Center for Racial Justice.

The death of George Floyd while in police custody in 2020 was less a catalyst and more an excuse for progressives to advance the agenda they had been working at all along. For Penn State University, that meant forming committees and promising big budget moves to promote the woke tenets of diversity, inclusion and equity under the previous leadership.

Now that President Neeli Bendapudi has taken over from former President Eric Barron, reports that his plan for the center was quashed led more than 400 faculty to sign a letter angered by the move.

“Initially, the university said the center was unaffordable,” they wrote in part. “Following pushback and bad publicity, messaging has changed. More recent communications reveal a tentative plan to spend more on existing racial justice programs than the center would have cost.”

“While any plan that leads to systemic antiracism reform is welcome, these messages appear inconsistent and raise further concerns,” the letter said, and added, “Either the university did not have the resources for the center, or they had the money all along and were going to invest it elsewhere.”

Bendapudi had expressed during a town hall in November, “My concern is that, frankly, every single university is establishing these centers, and I think that’s a great idea. But I also worry that is not necessarily what will move the needle for us.”

However, that assertion may be only part of the story as Spotlight PA reportedly obtained a letter from members of the Penn State Board of Trustees raising concerns over how the limited resources of the university are being allocated and “whether teaching America’s exceptionalism remains a core objective at Penn State.”

“We believe that in addition to advancing scholarship that speaks to our differences, the university should be dedicated to scholarship that celebrates the positive accomplishments of western civilization and the United States in a way that could serve to inspire and unite all of us,” the letter continued.

Suggestions that this message was shared by the board at large were dismissed by board chair Matthew Schuyler who commented the sentiment “was not presented to the Board of Trustees and therefore did not and does not represent the view of the board.”

“As should be expected regarding a critical topic such as this, individual board members have a variety of viewpoints,” Schuyler also stated.

Meanwhile, questions remained as to whether or not three subcommittees formed under Barron’s Select Penn State Presidential Commission on Racism, Bias and Community Safety were ever legitimate as several faculty who spoke out against Bendapudi’s deviation from the previous administration voiced their belief that they had signed on as part of a “university process.”

Penn State’s public relations senior director Lisa Powers told spotlight PA in an email, those subcommittees “were not a formal University effort, but rather the work of individuals who organized themselves to further these actions after the work of the commission was complete.”

Now, though it seems the effort to promote the divisive agenda has not wavered, with Bendapudi attempting to balance the school’s budget after working with a $127 million deficit for fiscal year 2022, there are signs that the idea of “go woke, go broke” is having an appreciable impact on the progressive movement.

Kevin Haggerty


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