University Spent $100k To Celebrate New DEI Initiative That Included Espresso Bar And Hip-Hop Performance

The University of Michigan spent about $100,000 celebrating its “DEI 2.0” plan, which included an espresso bar, hip-hop performance, and a lecture connecting “critical race theory and hip-hop.”

The event took place in October 2023, but the details were provided to The College Fix via a public records request last month, which reported the findings last week.

The university’s public affairs department announced the event, which is an annual DEI Summit, saying it would “celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop and highlight its intersection with critical race theory, celebrating and exploring the power of storytelling as a driving force for social change.”

The event included “a roundtable discussion with hip-hop artists and critical race theory experts” and performances from Rapsody and others.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion are core values at the University of Michigan,” university spokesperson Colleen Mastony told the Fix in a statement.

“The university’s DEI efforts are far-reaching in ways appropriate to the size, scope, and complexity of our university – spanning across 51 units of the university and serving functions that support our over 50,000 students and over 50,000 employees,” she added.

As The Fix noted, the university spent around $60,000 on its two keynote speakers, paying hip-hop artist, producer, and activist David Banner $25,000 for a 10-minute speech and his participation in a 45-minute moderated roundtable discussion. Hip-hop artist Rapsody was paid $35,000 for a musical performance and her participation in the roundtable discussion. The contracts for each included first-class air travel and coach tickets for their traveling companions, along with transportation, lodging, and meals for two nights.

The university also spent another $32,564 on catering, audio equipment, decorations, and photography. This included a $1,750 mobile espresso cart, a $395 photo booth, and a $550 cotton candy cart.

In the past few months, several university systems have dropped DEI mandates, including most recently the University of North Carolina. The leadership board that governs the university system’s policies voted in May to repeal previous diversity, equity, and inclusion policies. The school will instead have new neutrality-focused guidelines, and the university said it was committed to free speech, academic freedom, and accepting different viewpoints and people.

A Texas law also banned DEI programs and offices at public universities, which led to 60 DEI employees getting laid off at the University of Texas-Austin.

Harvard University has also recently ended a requirement for faculty to sign DEI statements as a condition of employment

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