States Push Back Against ‘Toxic Ideology’ of DEI in Higher Education, as Focus Shifts To Closing Loopholes for Colleges

‘In the wake of the October 7 Hamas massacre,’ one analyst tells the Sun, people are realizing that many DEI concepts are ‘exactly the same language that has promoted and supported that slaughter of Israelis.’

AP/Jose Luis Magana, File
Demonstrators protest outside of the Supreme Court at Washington after the Supreme Court struck down racial preferences in college admissions. AP/Jose Luis Magana, File

Three weeks after Texas’s “diversity, equity, and inclusion” ban at public universities went into effect, a growing number of states are passing or considering similar legislation. Yet, as the tide turns against the initiatives, opponents of DEI see the next step as a critical one: ensuring that bans are written in a way that will force colleges to comply.

The Supreme Court’s June 2023 decision banning race-based admissions and the recent resignation of Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay, have put national attention on DEI initiatives in recent months. 

Texas’s ban was modeled after legislation developed by the Goldwater Institute and the Manhattan Institute. It defunds DEI offices and goes beyond only regulating admissions by ensuring that there is no identity or race-based discrimination in hiring, instruction, and operations of the universities.

Florida, Arizona, Iowa, and Oklahoma have implemented various forms of pushback, and several states, including West Virginia, Oklahoma, and South Carolina, have introduced portions of the model policy. Yet universities — both in states with DEI bans and without — are finding ways to circumvent the Supreme Court ruling and other bans against race-based policies. 

“Now part of what is so important about the issue, at present, is to make sure that the reforms, the legislation that is put in place to protect against DEI is not something that administrators can simply try to find a loophole to get around,” a director of education policy at the Goldwater Institute and one of the writers of the model legislation, Matt Beienburg, tells the Sun.

Texas’s ban was crafted to not just blatantly ban DEI but to “describe the substance of what is prohibited” so that administrators can’t just change the names of the initiatives and keep pursuing them. While no plan will be 100 percent effective, he says, many of the DEI offices and programs there are already being shut down. A key part of future legislation and bans will be ensuring that it “robustly describes” the prohibited activities, he adds. 

DEI takes multiple forms on campuses, including instances of colleges screening out faculty who “do not profess allegiance to DEI,” which prevents students from having teachers who don’t “subscribe to radical, politicalized activism that says we should be treating individuals differently based upon race,” he says. 

Colleges also often force students to take DEI classes as a condition of graduating, forcing students to use time, money, and resources on it just to get a degree, he notes. 

“I think that in the wake of George Floyd, riots, and BLM, a lot of people were cowed into submission when it came to issues of race and critical race theory, activist politics, and I think people were afraid to speak out,” Mr. Beienburg says. “We’ve seen recently, especially in the wake of the October 7 Hamas massacre of Israelis, many of the concepts pushed by the DEI regime, such as decolonization, is exactly the same language that has promoted and supported that slaughter of Israelis.”

As proponents of DEI shared and promoted “imagery of Hamas,” he adds, “we’ve seen a lot of donors and a lot of supporters wake up and recognize this is a toxic ideology that promotes the segmentation of individuals, classifying them as oppressors or oppressed, and in many cases, celebrating the overthrow of systems because they believe that it’s better to essentially burn down the system than to embrace principles of the Constitution and equality before the law.”

The New York Sun

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