In just one day, the heavily taxpayer subsidized University of Michigan spent roughly $100,000 to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion with cotton candy, espressos, and live hip-hop performances.

Documents obtained by The College Fix show the Oct. 9 DEI Summit “Truth Telling: The Kinship of Critical Race Theory and Hip-Hop” cost about $60,000 for keynote speakers, and $32,564 for catering, audio equipment, decorations, and photography.

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UM spent another $6,650 on other performers, $1,750 on a mobile espresso cart, $395 on a photo booth, and $550 on a cotton candy cart, records show.

“Not a single taxpayer dollar should fund or promote DEI at a public university,” Adam Andrzejewski, CEO of, told the college news site. “Equity, meaning equal outcomes where merit is considered racist and judgements are based on skin color is the opposite of equal opportunity.”

The DEI values, according to the government watchdog, are antithetical to America’s founding principle of equality.

The summit, coordinated through UM’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Michigan Medicine, featured hip-hop artist and social activist David Banner, who was paid $25,000 for a 10-minute “TED-style remark” and 45-minute roundtable discussion with other panelists on “critical race theory and hip hop,” according to his contract.

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The university paid hip-hop artist Marianna Evans Rapsody, known by the stage name Rapsody, $35,000 for the roundtable discussion and a musical performance.

Contracts for both artists also included first-class plane tickets for each, coach tickets for travel companions, transportation, lodging, and meals for two nights.

“Additionally, the university gave a $5,000 honorarium to Andre Douglas Pond Cummings, a law professor at University of Arkansas at Little Rock, who spoke at the event, according to the documents,” The Fix reports. “Honorariums also went to Kaleb Briscoe, $500; Nina Flores, $500; student DJ, $150; and student drummers, $500 total, according to the documents.”

Patricia Sellinger, UM’s freedom of information officer, told The Fix other university staff and a hip-hop cypher student group were not paid for participating in the event, which also featured a breakdance performance, land acknowledgement, and remarks from UM President Santa Ono.

UM spokeswoman Colleen Mastony defended the DEI spending when contacted by The Fix.

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

The October event was designed to kick off UM’s DEI 2.0 Plan, with an informational session to “explore the strategies and initiatives that will be applied during the five-year plan execution.”

The roughly $100,000 expense is part of a broader effort involving at least 241 employees focused on DEI with payroll costs of roughly $30.68 million, or enough to “cover in-state tuition and fees for 1,781 undergraduate students, The Fix reported in January.

The number of employees balloons to more than 500 when factoring in employees who work on DEI initiatives part time, or serve as “DEI Unit Leads” or on dozens of DEI committees.

“UM’s five-year diversity central plans are reminiscent of the Soviet Union’s and Communist China’s five-year central plans to achieve ‘Ideal Communist Societies’ which are examples of top-down oppressive bureaucratic blueprints to socially engineer outcomes decided by the top leadership of the dictatorial regimes,” economist Mark Perry told the news site at the time.

UM, however, isn’t the only publicly funded university in Michigan to spend big on DEI initiatives.

Michigan State University spends more than $18 million a year on salaries for 140 employees to work on 222 different DEI initiatives.

Both UM and MSU officials dispute the spending figures, noting the DEI duties are in addition to other employee responsibilities.

UM has received more than $400 million in taxpayer funding so far in fiscal year 2023-24, while MSU has received about $318 million from taxpayers, according to budget documents from the Senate Fiscal Agency.