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Bill would stop universities from imposing DEI pledges on students, staff

Conservatives hopeful legislation will spur action against ‘toxic campus culture’

A leading conservative group expressed hope about cracking down on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at the state level as a federal bill to stop funding to universities that require diversity pledges stalls in the House.

U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a Texas Republican, introduced the legislation in December to remove federal funding from universities that require students or applicants write DEI statements.

Crenshaw said DEI bureaucracy is “directly responsible” for a “toxic campus culture,” and his bill will protect freedom of thought on campuses.

Specifically, his bill would amend the Higher Education Act to block federal funds for colleges and universities that require DEI statements as a condition for employment or enrollment.

“We can see the utter moral bankruptcy in higher education with the spread of antisemitism on college campuses,” Crenshaw said in a statement when he introduced the bill. “Make no mistake – the DEI bureaucracy is directly responsible for a toxic campus culture that separates everyone into oppressor vs oppressed.”

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Dec. 19, but it has not moved and no co-sponsors are listed. Even if the bill advances in the House, its chance of becoming law seems unlikely given the divided makeup of Congress.

When contacted about an update on the legislation, Crenshaw’s office pointed The College Fix to its news release and previous media coverage.

Meanwhile, a leading conservative organization expressed hope that the federal legislation will spur more action at the state level.

Jonathan Butcher, senior research fellow in education policy at the Heritage Foundation, told The College Fix in an interview this week that Crenshaw’s bill comes in the context of a larger debate about DEI in universities.

Although the bill has not moved forward, Butcher said it serves to “elevate the issue,” potentially encouraging more lawmakers to take action at the state level – which Butcher believes is the appropriate place for such legislation.

Butcher told The Fix that people have begun to realize that DEI initiatives do not actually promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. Rather, he said they outlaw diverse thought, prohibit equal treatment, and exclude those whose beliefs may differ.

Because of this, Butcher said university administrations should act to stop these harmful policies. If the administration fails to do so, Butcher said lawmakers should act – and some already have.

In early 2023, Florida passed a law banning public institutions of higher education from spending state money on DEI programs. Soon after, Texas lawmakers enacted a similar bill requiring public universities to abolish DEI offices.

Other states have followed suit, with Oklahoma and Wisconsin lawmakers also taking action to limit DEI in higher education. Most recently, Utah’s governor signed a bill prohibiting DEI policies in public universities and government agencies.

So far this year, bills have been filed in at least 17 states to “restrict or require disclosure of DEI initiatives,” the Associated Press found.

These include a Kentucky bill that would expand protections against ideological discrimination to higher education students and employees, The College Fix reported.

MORE: University of Arkansas appears to follow through with dismantling DEI

IMAGE: Dmitry Demidovich/Shutterstock

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Mary Mobley is a student at The Master's University majoring in political studies with an emphasis in constitutional law.