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DEI Required: 67% of Universities Mandate ‘Diversity’ Indoctrination

April 15, 2024

More than two-thirds of America’s major universities are prioritizing indoctrination in “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) ideology over real education.

That’s the bracing conclusion of a new report finding that 67 percent of major universities across the country require students to take courses in DEI—an ideology that promotes race-based discrimination—just to graduate. But the Goldwater Institute has a solution to restore institutions of higher learning to their core educational purpose: the pursuit of truth through the creation and dissemination of knowledge.

The ideology behind DEI teaches that the world is divided into the categories of “oppressor” and “oppressed.” Accordingly, the only way to pursue justice is to practice discrimination against those deemed “oppressors.” DEI thus rejects the American ideal of equal opportunity regardless of race, color, or creed.

Speech First, the free speech advocacy group that drafted the report, found that a large majority of universities studied use general education requirements to force all students to take courses that instruct them in this discriminatory ideology. Fifty-nine percent of those universities with DEI requirements were public institutions. For example, the University of Louisville requires that at least two of a student’s courses in the general education curriculum have a “diversity” focus.

Furthermore, many universities infuse DEI ideology into the general education program’s student learning outcomes (or statements that outline the program’s goals). These universities are making it clear that they seek to promote DEI ideology to their students, not merely to teach this ideology as one idea among many.

The new revelations provide even more confirmation of how embedded DEI has become in American universities. A recent report from the Goldwater Institute reveals that all journalism students at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University must take a course on “Diversity and Civility.” Readings in this course state that seemingly innocuous statements—such as “I believe the most qualified person should get the job”—are “microaggressions,” offensive actions that make people feel unwelcome. The Cronkite School is supposed to be one of the country’s preeminent training grounds for journalists; instead it’s forcing cultural and political indoctrination down students’ throats.

Although several states have followed the Goldwater Institute’s blueprint by eliminating DEI offices and prohibiting DEI training, these reports on DEI in academic coursework show that students are still subject to indoctrination in the classroom. Fortunately, there is an opportunity to combat this indoctrination and restore public universities to their core educational missions.

The Freedom from Indoctrination Act, released by the Goldwater Institute and Speech First, directly addresses DEI course requirements. This reform prohibits public universities from requiring politicized DEI courses in academic programs. Furthermore, it prevents universities from compelling professors to include DEI content in their courses, a clear violation of academic freedom. Finally, the Freedom from Indoctrination Act requires public universities’ general education programs to provide basic instruction in important elements of the American system of self-government, including the Constitution, the separation of powers, freedom of speech, and landmark Supreme Court cases.

Public universities should serve the entire public, not just the progressive slice of the population. State legislatures and boards of trustees for state universities have a responsibility to ensure that students receive a real education that exposes them to competing ideas instead of a single narrow ideology.

No public university should be forcing students to sit through lectures in DEI dogma as a condition of obtaining a degree. Legislatures and boards should begin to restore the promise of higher education by adopting the Freedom from Indoctrination Act.

Timothy K. Minella is a Senior Fellow at the Goldwater Institute’s Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy. 



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