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Three More States Drop DEI Programs at their Public Universities

May 14, 2024

It’s happening in Virginia, where George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth University rejected proposals to force all students to take “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) courses to graduate.

It’s happening at the University of North Carolina, where on Monday the Board of Trustees voted to divert $2.3 million away from DEI programs into public safety.

And it’s happening at the University of Wyoming, which announced last week that it’s closing its Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Across the country, Americans are notching victories for equal opportunity, freedom of thought, and academic rigor by dismantling DEI programs at public universities. The bodies that oversee public universities—state legislatures and university boards—are waking up to the nefarious effects of wasteful and discriminatory DEI programs.

Americans are realizing that DEI cloaks its radical and discriminatory aims in feel-good buzzwords. The ideology behind DEI divides the world into the simplistic categories of “oppressor” and “oppressed,” calling for discrimination against “oppressors” to achieve “social justice.” DEI thus rejects the American ideal of equal opportunity regardless of race, color, or creed. Furthermore, DEI produces adherents committed to ceaseless activism against supposedly unjust structures, including the family and our constitutional system of self-government.

Anti-Israel protests at university campuses across the country display the logical endpoint of this poisonous ideology. In the upside-down world of DEI, Jews—a group that has endured the Holocaust and countless acts of repression—become “oppressors” because of their alleged proximity to “whiteness.” The educational establishment has indoctrinated students in DEI ideology since their elementary school years, and we are now seeing the baleful results in the anti-Semitism at elite universities.

These attempts to compel students to take DEI courses are not unusual. As shown in a recent report by Speech First, 67 percent of major American universities force students to take DEI courses just to graduate. The decisions at George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth University recognize that these DEI requirements substitute indoctrination for real education.

The Goldwater Institute and Speech First have taken a leading role in pushing back against DEI course requirements through the Freedom from Indoctrination Act reform. This policy prohibits public universities from requiring politicized DEI courses in academic programs. And it requires 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 are also dismantling the DEI bureaucracies that promote this discriminatory ideology, as the University of Wyoming (UW) and the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill did this week. In addition to that, the Board of Governors for the entire North Carolina university system will vote this week on a proposal to eliminate DEI officers at all system campuses.

North Carolina and Wyoming are following several other states in adopting Goldwater’s reform that eliminates these wasteful and discriminatory offices at public universities. These offices provide the shock troops that promote discriminatory practices in hiring and admissions and conduct mandatory training in DEI concepts. Goldwater has successfully defunded these offices in several states. In Texas, Goldwater recently passed the nation’s most powerful law to completely dismantle the DEI bureaucracy.

At the same time, UW’s president prohibited requiring candidates for faculty positions to submit “diversity statements.” These statements compel job seekers to affirm their loyalty to the DEI regime. More and more universities, both public and private, are recognizing that these ideological loyalty oaths have no place in higher education. MIT recently abandoned them. Goldwater has ended this discriminatory practice in 10 states, including Arizona, where a Goldwater report on the prevalence of mandatory diversity statements forced the state’s public university system to stop requiring them.

Although the battle is far from over, these victories show that DEI is on the defensive. Across all 50 states, Goldwater will continue to advocate for our reforms that help to restore public universities to their core missions: the pursuit of truth and the education of thoughtful citizens.

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



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