Secretary of Education said report was still ‘incomplete’
Public colleges and universities in Oklahoma spend millions of dollars on “diversity, equity and inclusion” initiatives each year, according to a disclosure by Chancellor Allison Garrett of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
The report came a week after Secretary of Education Ryan Walters requested the regents disclose 10 years’ worth of DEI funding in higher education along with samples of material used.
The College Fix emailed the Oklahoma Department of Education twice in the past week and asked what steps it would take after receiving the data but the DOE has yet to respond.
“We are working with our state system colleges and universities to compile the information requested,” the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education confirmed to The Fix at the end of January.
The University of Oklahoma informed The Fix at the end of January it would comply. Oklahoma State University’s media team did not respond to a request for comment on compliance.
The report showed that Oklahoma’s higher education institutions plan to spend a combined $10.2 million on DEI in the current fiscal year, with $3.7 million coming from the state, according to an analysis by Tulsa World.
Chance Layton, a spokesperson for the National Association of Scholars, welcomed these efforts on the part of state officials in an email to the College Fix.
“Financial transparency is a fundamental part of public expenditures,” Layton told The Fix. “Publicly funded institutions should report all such spending and do so in every state.”
Layton called for legislation addressing the issue.
“Transparency bills are the first step to acknowledging the damage DEI does to higher education,” Layton said.
Garrett, the chancellor, described a wide variety of topics addressed by DEI programs, including race, gender, disabilities, and the experiences of international students, single mothers, veterans and low-income students. She said that the Higher Learning Commission and federal laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act “require” such programs.
But Walters, who promised to fight “left-wing indoctrination” during his campaign, told Tulsa World that he has heard concerns from constituents about divisive content in DEI programs, including “white privilege walks” and “the shaming of one race or another or saying one race is superior or inferior to another.”
Walters also told The Oklahoman on February 3 that the information provided by the chancellor was “incomplete.”
Walters’ move echoed a recent tactic by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who ordered public universities in December to disclose funding for “initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion, and critical race theory.”
Florida institutions reported millions of dollars in DEI spending, after which DeSantis called for a statewide ban on such programs.
However, students at the University of Oklahoma, one of the state’s most prominent institutions, defended the woke initiatives as vital to campus culture.
“The impact of DEI efforts on the OU campus and our student body is essential … DEI initiatives and programs [are] now woven into our University,” the president and vice president of OU’s student government told the OU Daily.
Quen Phan, a doctoral student and an “LGBTQ+ Program Coordinator” at OU, reacted negatively to the news that Walters had asked for the data.
“Honestly, nothing makes me more frustrated, defeated, and questioning my life choices as a higher ed [professional] than this,” Phan tweeted.
IMAGE: Dmitry Demidovich/Shutterstock.com