Oklahoma took a stand against diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) last month. The state’s governor, Kevin Stitt, signed an executive order defunding DEI efforts in public colleges and universities and banning it in other state agencies.
He said the move would take “politics out of education” and encourage “equal opportunity rather than promising equal outcomes.” Affirmative action itself has been banned in the state since 2012.
This latest executive order does not target student organizations, but it does ban state resources from being used for diversity training and asks for a review of current DEI programs to eliminate any “non-critical personnel.” Oklahoma is following in the footsteps of Florida, Texas, South Dakota, North Carolina and Tennessee in attempting to curb DEI initiatives at public colleges.
But public colleges aren’t the only ones being affected; this is part of a broader backlash to DEI that has become prevalent in many industries, from technology to academia to fashion. Supporters of DEI say these initiatives help everyone get ahead, especially marginalized communities that have been historically disenfranchised. Critics call DEI-related work a form of discrimination.