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These Colleges Across The U.S. Are Scrapping Their DEI Programs

ICYMI, colleges and universities across the United States have begun to dispose of their DEI programs in the past year. But which colleges are banning DEI programs, and what do these changes mean for students and staff? Let’s get into it.

According to The Washington Post, the history of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) policies date back to the mid-1800s — and resistance to such programs has existed for just as long. The purpose of DEI policies are to advocate for the integration and inclusion of all races, sexualities, gender identities, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, languages, religions, disabilities, and more in settings where equity among all groups might be hard to come by. DEI policies can include (but are not limited to) diversifying where schools find their applicants, standardizing interview processes, hosting DEI educational events, implementing resource groups, and holding diversity trainings for students and faculty. 

However, many conservative lawmakers, corporate leaders, and activists are against DEI policies, arguing that these policies are discriminatory (largely against white people) and were created to advance liberal political agendas. Billionaire Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, for example, is vocal about his opposition to DEI systems and policies, equivocating them with racism. “Shame on anyone who uses it,” he stated in a Jan. 3, 2024, post on X. 

Emboldened by the Supreme Court’s decision to end affirmative action in June 2023, anti-DEI advocates have been working to repeal DEI efforts at schools across the country — and many are succeeding. Here are all the colleges and universities (listed by state, since many schools’ DEI policies have been impacted by statewide legislation) that have gutted their DEI programs, why they did so, and what DEI will look like on campuses going forward.

1. Florida

In March 2024, the University of Florida broke down its DEI program to comply with a state law barring public universities from using government funding for DEI initiatives. This also eliminated more than a dozen jobs within the university. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been a loud voice in the fight against DEI programs, responded to this action with praise, saying he “hope[s] more states follow suit.” All 12 colleges in the state university system of Florida were required to repeal their DEI programming, such as the University of North Florida, which closed its LGBTQ+, interfaith, intercultural, and women’s centers in February 2024. The state law will officially go into effect in July 2024.

2. Idaho

In March 2024, Idaho enacted a state law banning public universities from requiring students to submit and adhere to diversity statements. (Diversity statements are personal writing samples that demonstrate an applicant’s values and experiences, and how they plan to contribute to the institution in question’s DEI goals.) All public institutions of higher education in Idaho, therefore, will be prohibited from asking candidates about their relationships to the subjects of race, gender identity, ethnicity, or sexual orientation going forward.

3. Iowa

In April 2024, Iowa state schools (such as Iowa State University and the University of Iowa) began cutting back their DEI programs in accordance with a new anti-DEI law put in place, cutting multiple faculty positions. 

In support of moving away from DEI policies, Iowa State University University President Wendy Wintersteen expressed concern that rural Iowa students might find ISU too large and unfamiliar. “One of the first things we did was establish learning communities so that a young man, a young white man from rural Iowa could come and be in a learning community and find the place where they could belong,” Wintersteen said. The university will officially close its DEI office in July 2024, removing five faculty positions as well as redirecting the money originally set aside for DEI programs to other university priorities. 

4. Kansas

In May 2024, governor Laura Kelly signed a bill into a law, banning DEI statements in student admissions and faculty hirings at public universities. This bill will allow attorney general Kris Kobach to seek up to $10,000 in fines for every case in which DEI is linked to faculty hiring or student enrollment. 

5. North Carolina

In May 2024, the University of North Carolina board voted to divert $2.3 million away from the 17 schools’ DEI programs. Just weeks later, on May 23, UNC voted to repeal its DEI program entirely, replacing it with a new system known as “Equality Within the University of North Carolina.” The new policies do away with key features of the DEI system that was previously in place. 

6. Oklahoma

In December 2023, Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt issued an executive order effectively banning DEI initiatives in agencies and public universities across the state. In response, Oklahoma University’s president, Joseph Harrosz Jr., sent a letter to the university’s community soon thereafter, reassuring them of the university’s commitment to and belief in accessible education. Two months later, OU’s former DEI office changed its name to the “Division of Access and Opportunity” in compliance with the state’s new laws. 

7. Texas

In 2023, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill to prohibit and disband DEI programs on Texas state college campuses. According to NBC, this resulted in more than 300 layoffs across the nine academic and five health institutions in the Texas State University system. UT Austin also closed its multicultural center and ended a scholarship for undocumented students in January 2024, and will continue cracking down on DEI initiatives in compliance with state law. 

8. Utah

In January 2024, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed a law that bans DEI training and hiring initiatives at state universities. In a statement tied to his action, Cox expressed his growing concern with the DEI initiatives that had been put in place, saying this bill offered a “balanced solution.” In February, Cox defended his decisions with an essay on Substack, stating he “care[s] deeply about our brown kids and our [B]lack kids,” but continuing to insist that DEI operations are not the way to support them.

9. Wyoming

Effective July 1, 2024, state universities in Wyoming are banned from spending state dollars on DEI funding. In May 2024, the University of Wyoming eliminated its DEI office to comply with this law, despite school president Ed Seidel pushing back on the change. Seidel insisted that the university would maintain “essential services” that are important for student and faculty success but have been “incorrectly categorized under DEI,” while still remaining in compliance with Wyoming’s new policies. 

Cate Scott

Syracuse '26

Cate Scott is a third-year Syracuse University student pursuing a dual degree in journalism and creative writing. Actively contributing to multiple campus publications and constantly learning about the journalism field in her courses, she is dedicated to expanding her writing skills across various disciplines and formats. She is currently based in Greater Boston and is interested in exploring magazine writing, politics, investigative work, and culture. Cate has been reading and writing poetry and personal essays for years. She hopes to pursue creative writing as well as her journalistic passions in her future career. Beyond her academic pursuits, Cate is a runner and seasoned music nerd. She is on her school's club sailing team and is a proud and active sorority member. The highlights of her weeks include hosting her college radio show, exploring Syracuse, finding time to play her guitar, and doing it all with her roommates and best friends. A native New Englander, Cate spends her summers taking the train into Boston and hiking with her German Shepherd, Maggie.