Sharing Leadership and Moving to Culture Change to Save Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Values within Challenging State Policy Environments


Today’s environment for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) looks dramatically different than just a year ago. Several state legislatures are now asking colleges and universities to report on their DEI budgets as well as provide lists of the programs, trainings, services, and initiatives that focus on DEI so the state legislators can identify and cut such efforts. Legislation also targets DEI training, diversity statements in hiring and promotion, and using race or ethnicity in admissions and hiring. Florida has led the conservative backlash against DEI, but several other states—including North Carolina, North Dakota, Texas, and Tennessee—have also passed laws aimed at dismantling DEI efforts, with proposed bills in many other states across the country (“DEI Legislation Tracker,” 2023). The Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, has developed model legislation that lawmakers in several states quickly promoted; it would abolish DEI offices and staff, eliminate the use of diversity statements in hiring, and bar training that educates staff and faculty on how to identify and fight systemic racism (Rufo et al., 2023).

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