DEI mandates pervade colleges and universities: Survey

Mandates for diversity, equity, and inclusion ideology are pervasive in American institutions of higher education, according to a new report from advocacy group Speech First.

A majority of the 248 universities surveyed in the report published Thursday require students to take DEI-related courses to satisfy their general education requirements, and 59% of the 165 universities that require DEI coursework are taxpayer-funded schools.

“Requiring students to take DEI courses in order to receive a diploma stifles genuine diversity of thought and undermines the principles of academic freedom,” Cherise Trump, executive director of Speech First, said in a statement. “When students are indoctrinated and coerced to this level, civic engagement dies. Our report illuminates the true extent of this problem and how universities attempt to conceal their coercive tactics in pursuit of their political agendas.”

The report noted how DEI ideology can be embedded into nearly every aspect of higher education, from admissions practices and the classroom to hiring and teaching. Often aided by a dedicated bureaucracy, DEI ideology has massive institutional backing from bureaucrats who use “their power to entrench radical, far-left ideology into the university experience,” the report said.

Speech First compiled a grouping of schools based on at least one of four criteria: membership in the Spring 2023 NCAA Division 1 Conference, inclusion on the 2023 U.S. News & World Report ranking of best national universities, an endowment of more than $1 billion, and undergraduate enrollment numbers in the top 100 of U.S. universities.

American University was highlighted in the report for its diversity and equity requirement courses that “attend to issues of power, privilege, and inequality that are embedded in social, cultural, or economic hierarchies, including (but not limited to) those around race, ethnicity, class, ability, gender, and sexuality.”

The University of Maryland was also showcased by Speech First for its “Understanding Plural Societies” and “Cultural Competence” coursework.

“Upon closely examining the class descriptions and learning outcomes of hundreds of DEI courses – we observed a disturbing trend – the curriculum often advocates far-left ideological perspectives and sometimes even encourages students to get politically active on these issues,” the report said. “This report also details how DEI can remain entrenched in curriculum standards — even within states that have officially prohibited or defunded DEI departments in an effort to eradicate its dogma from campuses.”

The report pointed to examples, such as in Texas and Utah, where bans on DEI have merely amounted to banning the words “diversity, equity, and inclusion” while still allowing the ideology to thrive in other departments of the school.

Speech First said that because of loopholes in anti-DEI law, it is necessary to engage legal action, donors, and other avenues in order to eradicate it from the institutions.

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The group also argued that to remove DEI fully, schools will need to “prohibit the mandatory inclusion of ideological activism courses, such as critical race theory and DEI, as a condition for obtaining a degree, ensure that universities provide instruction in foundational principles of the United States that make up our legal system and governing structures, and educate students on the principles and ultimate value of free speech, debate, open inquiry, and viewpoint diversity in orientation programs, with the goal of alleviating student self-censorship and administrative or in-class coercive practices.”

“By exposing these practices, we aim to hold institutions accountable and spark a much-needed conversation about how to untangle DEI from college curriculum and restore open discourse and the free exchange of ideas in higher education,” Trump said.

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