Cloak and DEI-gger: Universities Secretly Continue Diversity-Oriented Policies, Despite State Prohibitions

Evan Poellinger | September 29, 2023
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In spite of official state prohibitions, universities in Texas and Florida are finding ways to maintain Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policies and positions without violating the letter of anti-DEI laws.

In Florida and Texas, which enacted anti-DEI laws in May and June, respectively, positions enforcing racially discriminatory hiring or propagating diversity training have been prohibited, as has the use of public funds for DEI policies and activities.

However, these restrictions have not prevented DEI advocates at universities in Texas and Florida from attempting to preserve their positions and agenda through loopholes in the statutes.

Administrators from Texas A & M University, despite ostensibly complying with Texas’ new anti-DEI bill, were recorded in a meeting, video of which was posted by the university describing how to circumvent the requirements, with Assistant Provost for Diversity Annie McGowan proposing that “[W]e do not need a diversity statement per se to do the work, if we ask for the candidate to reflect on that work in their teaching and research statement.”

In Florida, DEI officials have been preparing for the coming anti-DEI-pocalypse by surreptitiously renaming and rearranging diversity positions, or simply refusing to budge entirely. According to Scott Yenon, the University of West Florida simply changed the title of its former chief diversity officer, who is now known as the associate vice president for academic engagement and chief diversity officer.

At the University of Florida, the nursing school’s associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion is now associate dean for community engagement and global affairs. This particular associate dean still describes her passion for “interplay of global diversity” and “inclusion to achieve equity” on her Linkedin profile, while listing one of her top skills as, “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Initiative Implementation.”

If Texas and Florida wish to truly combat DEI, they must find a way to enforce the spirit of their new laws, and not just the text.