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Public university offering professors money to infuse 'social justice' into lessons

classroom chairs in row (Credit: WPDE)
classroom chairs in row (Credit: WPDE)
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (TND) — Professors at a public university are being offered money to restructure their classes and include content focusing on "diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice."

In an email to faculty, the University of Memphis says those interested can submit their revised syllabi along with a 500-word essay detailing their "philosophy" on inclusion to possibly receive a $3,000 stipend.

This announcement offers a competitive grant opportunity designed to support faculty who are interested in redesigning and aligning existing course syllabi with the goals established by the workgroup entitled, Infusing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice into Existing Courses/Curriculum," the university says in its email announcement.

The university says the stipend will be awarded in two separate installments of $1,500 each — one payment after the syllabi is successfully redesigned and the other payment after the newly designed class is taught.

The incentives are part of the university's "Eradicating Systemic Racism and Promoting Social Justice Initiative", which focuses on identifying areas the university says need reform and change and then implementing the needed change to "take another step in the direction of realizing the hope of a community defined by equality and justice," according to the university.

Speaking anonymously with The Washington Free Beacon, a faculty member of the University of Memphis said he has concerns over this use of taxpayer money and the prospect of changing curriculum and its effect on students.

We've had a hard time retaining good faculty at our salary levels, so anytime you see money being spent on non-student or non-faculty causes, it makes you scratch your head," the professor reportedly said. "Could this money be spent on students or retaining quality faculty rather than a progressive agenda that isn't likely supported by the taxpayers or voters of Tennessee?

The anonymous professor reportedly says it's hard to blame "underpaid" professors for taking the money, but the stipend then incentivizes "nonpartisan" instructors to turn students into "activists" for "a few extra dollars".

"I'm not sure how changing an accounting, nursing, or engineering course to align with social justice principles helps students," the anonymous professor reportedly says. "I think the taxpayers of Tennessee should be aware that the administration is prioritizing spending money on systemic racism above retaining faculty, staff, cost-cutting, or lowering tuition."

Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., reportedly said the university is pushing professors to focus on "useless teaching" through this stipend incentive and leadership should be "ashamed".

Leadership at the University of Memphis should be ashamed for bribing professors to advance this useless teaching," Burchett said, according to The Washington Free Beacon. "Students are better prepared for professional careers if they learn the three R's—reading, writing, and arithmetic—instead of woke activism.

The National Desk has reached out to the University of Memphis for comment but has not heard back before publication. This article will be updated if and when a comment is provided.

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However, the university has already said in its "Eradicating Systemic Racism and Promoting Social Justice Initiative" it has a "need for faculty, staff, and students to become more culturally competent and knowledgeable about all races and cultures in a world made increasingly smaller by globalization."

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