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Goldwater & Speech First Launch Plan to Detox College Classrooms of DEI

April 3, 2023

As colleges and universities across the nation double down on discriminatory “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI)-based programming, the Goldwater Institute is proud to announce, in partnership with Speech First, the release of a new model legislative package, the “Freedom from Indoctrination Act.”

Complementing the recently released Manhattan-Goldwater Institute “Abolish DEI Bureaucracies” model policy—which dismantles the bloated administrative apparatus of DEI offices across the nation—this new legislative package extends protections against DEI programming to the college classroom and freshman orientation experience. At the same time, it protects the academic freedom of students and faculty against DEI-related interference. With three key pillars, this policy suite:

  1. Ensures that no student is forced to take university- or college-level courses promoting ideological activism such as Critical Race Theory (CRT) or DEI as a condition of obtaining a degree from a public university or community college. Such coursework will no longer be allowed to form the basis of general education requirements, supplant available programming in unrelated majors, or be infused into faculty course designs in an infringement of their academic freedom.
  1. Ensures that each public university or college bachelor’s degree program provides student instruction in the founding principles of our constitutional republic, with oversight from constitutionally principled scholars.
  1. Ensures that university-sponsored freshman orientation programs affirm the principles of free speech and do not pressure students to engage in programming or exercises pertaining to DEI, CRT, or identity politics.

Together, these reforms will ensure that no student or faculty will ever again be forced to invest time or tuition payments subsidizing leftwing activist programming unrelated to their course of study. In place of radical DEI “studies” courses, students will receive instruction in the central pillars of America’s constitutional framework, including the freedom of speech and federalism.

Critically, this model policy does more than prohibit formally established DEI requirements in college degree programs; it also prohibits universities from using informal tactics to coerce students into DEI coursework or freshman orientation sessions. Under the model legislation, universities will be prohibited, for instance, from ever offering students a menu of courses for their degree program that leaves the students little choice but to enroll in DEI-laden classes if they wish to advance toward the completion of their major. This means, for instance, that physics majors who would like to learn the actual mechanics and application of science will never be “nudged” into classes exploring the supposed racism of the scientific method instead.

At the same time, faculty will be protected from DEI-driven department protocols: Under the model legislation, for example, institutions will never be allowed to pressure faculty into altering their curricula or reading lists to meet race- or gender-based quotas. Faculty will instead be free to assign works based on their intellectual contribution, not a checklist of demographic characteristics.

Under the model legislation, academic departments focused on race- and gender-related studies may continue to operate, but only within the strict confines of those departments. Only students who actively opt into—and wish to bet their career training on—a degree in such fields will ever be tracked into them to fulfill their degree or general education requirements.

Finally, this new legislation would ensure that incoming first-year students are no longer bombarded with radical progressive ideology the moment they set foot on campus. As Speech First recently documented in its new report, Freshman Disorientation: How Colleges and Universities Lay the Groundwork for Student Indoctrination, over 90% of surveyed colleges now push DEI-related content in their student orientation programming, while only a third of schools emphasized the importance of free speech or viewpoint diversity. This new model legislation would build on the foundation of the Goldwater Campus Free Speech Act to ensure that these trends are addressed.

Public, state-operated colleges and universities have no business forcing students or faculty to subsidize leftwing ideologies with their time or talent. Rather, these institutions must return to their foundational missions and ensure an appreciation for the central pillars of rigorous academic inquiry. The Freedom from Indoctrination Act will empower lawmakers to help them do just that.

You can read the Freedom from Indoctrination Act here.

Matt Beienburg is the Director of Education Policy at the Goldwater Institute. He also serves as director of the institute’s Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy. 



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