As Republican-led states fight for laws to cut Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives on college campuses, other state legislatures are pushing to enshrine the programs into law, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported.
At least 29 bills have been filed in 17 states to crack down on DEI programs, but states such as New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey are debating legislation that would do the opposite, the Chronicle reported. DEI has become a point of contention as state lawmakers grapple with the role the programs should have on campus, as Democrats argue that the programs help bolster diversity on campuses while Republicans challenge that they stoke division. (RELATED: ‘They Said They Wanted A Black Person To Do This Job’: DEI Instructor Fired By College For Not Being Woke Enough)
Democratic Massachusetts state Sen. Nick Collins introduced Senate Bill 1973 which would require “every state and quasi-state agency” to establish a senior DEI position, according to its text. New York’s Senate Bill 1452, introduced by Democratic state Sen. James Sanders Jr., would require each State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) campus to “establish courses of study on ethnic studies, women’s studies, and social justice” which students would have to complete three-credits of as a graduation requirement.
In New Jersey, Bill A3944, introduced by Democratic Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, would require public higher education institutions to create a plan that emphasizes how it will increase the recruitment and retention of diverse students and faculty, the document reads. It would also require the “Secretary of Higher Education and Division on Civil Rights to develop guidance regarding diversity in faculty search and selection process.”
The Chronicle has been tracking legislation that would restrict colleges’ DEI efforts across the 50 states. Read more about what we’re tracking and how. https://t.co/uA1U5sDDPv
— The Chronicle of Higher Education (@chronicle) April 6, 2023
The bills run counter to efforts in states such as Florida, where lawmakers are considering House Bill 999 which would prohibit courses in topics including gender studies, Critical Race Theory (CRT), intersectionality and DEI and prohibit universities from requiring potential employees to submit a statement outlining their commitment to DEI or CRT. National education organizations condemned the legislation as an attack on academic freedom and alleged it would “effectively silence faculty and students across the ideological spectrum and purge whole fields of study from public universities.”
Republican state Rep. Alex Andrade, who sponsored the bill, rebuked the claim and previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the accusations use “politically driven rhetoric camouflaged as some type of high-minded ordeal about the marketplace of ideas” and that it does not “accurately portra[y] the purpose or effect of the bill.”
Ohio is also considering a bill that would reform several aspects in higher education including ending mandatory diversity statements and trainings, increasing course transparency through published syllabi and severing ties with China. In Iowa, a bill would prohibit institutions that are funded by the state Board of Regents from paying for DEI initiatives or hire DEI officers.
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