Red State Gov Signs Order Barring Universities From Using Taxpayer Funding To Pay For ‘Diversity’ Programs

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Kate Anderson Contributor
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Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma signed an executive order Wednesday requiring state agencies and universities to review their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs and dismiss “non-essential personnel.”

The order bars “state agencies and institutions for higher education” from using taxpayer funds to mandate DEI training or require employees and new hires to sign onto a DEI “statement or give any applicant for employment preferential consideration based on the provision of such a diversity, equity, and inclusion statement.” Stitt said that his order would “encourage equal opportunity” in the state and take “politics out of education,” according to a press release. (RELATED: University Of Wisconsin System Rejects Proposal To Put Diversity Hiring Practices On Ice)

“In Oklahoma, we’re going to encourage equal opportunity, rather than promising equal outcomes,” Stitt said in a statement. “Encouraging our workforce, economy, and education systems to flourish means shifting focus away from exclusivity and discrimination, and toward opportunity and merit. We’re taking politics out of education and focusing on preparing students for the workforce.”

The order also prohibits agencies and universities from using state funding to force employees or students to “certify or declare agreement with, recognition of, or adherence to, any particular political, philosophical, religious, or other ideological viewpoint.” Under the order, universities and agencies will also not be able to require staff or students to “disclose their pronouns.”

The University of Oklahoma reportedly issued a statement to students and staff Wednesday, saying that the “news evokes deep concern and uncertainty about the future,” according to an email.

“Please be assured that key to our ongoing successes as the state’s flagship university – now and forever – are the foundational values that have served as our constant north star: access and opportunity for all of those with the talent and tenacity to succeed; being a place of belonging for all who attend; dedication to free speech and inquiry; and civility in our treatment of each other,” the email reads. “These values transcend political ideology, and in them, we are unwavering.”

Other states have made similar moves to Oklahoma, with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida signing a law in May prohibiting universities from using state funds to pay for DEI programs. The Iowa Board of Regents voted in November to completely eliminate all of its DEI programs that are not required by the federal government.

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