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In the latest attack on DEI, the University of Texas shut down its Diversity and Inclusion programs and laid off more than 60 employees. Lawmakers warned Texas higher education leaders that failure to comply with Texas anti-DEI bill, SB17 could mean a loss of funding or legal action. To comply with the bill initially, UT renamed their DEI program to eliminate the polarizing terms, but further threats led the University to dismantle the programs altogether. SB17 aims to eliminate all DEI initiatives, programs, offices, policies, and trainings in institutions of higher education in Texas, prohibiting them from

“… requiring or giving preferential consideration for certain ideological oaths of statements that undermine academic freedom and open inquiry and impede the discovery, preservation, and transmission of knowledge, race, color, ethnicity, or national origin, except to record any necessary demographic information…views on, experience with, or past of planned contributions to efforts involving diversity, equity, and inclusion, marginalized groups, anti-racism, social justice, intersectionality, or related concepts.”

Universities are meant to build and grow future minds, yet this bill eliminates programs that provide students with a comprehensive view of the world, including historical context and current issues of racism and inequity. The legislative language is filled with misinformation, including equating DEI with infringements on academic freedom, preferential treatment of certain groups and malicious ideology.  With DEI under attack at every turn, it can be challenging to know how to defend it. Luckily, the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center produced a report that uses research to counter these inaccurate statements of DEI with evidence-based and expert-curated responses to politicized misinformation. Many of these responses can be used in educational and workplace settings. It’s more important than ever that companies stand their ground, prepare for anti-DEI sentiment, and ensure that their internal and business practices are making a difference in eliminating bias and inequity. 

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The Editor

Ngozi Okeh is an experienced leader with a history of driving efforts to conceptualize, define, assess and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as strategic business processes. Ngozi is currently the Director of DEI at a leading marketing technology company where she develops and executes enterprise-wide DEI initiatives through rigorous strategic planning efforts, community partnerships, leadership collaboration, strategy evaluation, and careful management of communication and buy-in as well as policies and procedures.  Previously, she worked at an independent mortgage bank, where… View Profile