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State Lawmakers Can Reform Higher Ed

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State Lawmakers Can Reform Higher Ed

The Wall Street Journal January 17, 2023
Critical Race TheoryAll
EducationHigher Ed

The vast majority of college students attend state schools.

Many Americans despair of reforming the culture of higher education. But a substantial majority of college students attend public institutions, and these schools are subject to state law. If legislators are determined to restore free speech and academic freedom, there’s a lot they can do. In cooperation with the Goldwater Institute, we’ve developed model state legislation based on four reform proposals:

• Abolish “diversity, equity and inclusion” bureaucracies. These offices work actively against norms of academic freedom and truth-seeking, advance primarily political aims, and fuel administrative bloat that raises costs and exacerbates student debt. Administrators at public institutions should maintain official neutrality on controversial political questions extraneous to the business of educating students. Leave compliance with federal and state civil-rights laws to the university counsel’s office.

• Forbid mandatory diversity training for students, faculty and staff. Even when DEI officials claim their training is “voluntary,” it’s often required for faculty who wish to perform basic extracurricular roles, such as serving on hiring committees. Typical diversity training includes unscientific claims about “microaggressions” and “implicit bias” and rejects the basic American principle that everyone should be treated equally. It indoctrinates an ideology of identity-based grievance, guilt and division.

• Curtail the use of “diversity statements” as a means of political coercion. These serve as litmus tests in employment processes to exclude applicants who don’t adhere to critical race theory and other radical beliefs. Although the Supreme Court has long held that requiring loyalty oaths in public education is unconstitutional—as are other forms of compelled speech—universities increasingly require that applicants state their belief in the importance of DEI, cite prior personal efforts to promote DEI and pledge to integrate DEI into their teaching. Applicants for many positions have been eliminated on the basis of diversity statements alone and many universities condition their hiring decisions on the applicant’s ideological conformity.

• End racial and other identity-based preferences. The Supreme Court may do this in a few months anyway by holding that racial preferences violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and, in the case of public institutions, the 14th Amendment. Regardless of how the justices rule, discriminating based on race, sex, ethnicity or national origin is antithetical to universities’ basic missions. Outlawing admissions and hiring based on these characteristics would curtail universities’ efforts to evade a mandate against them from the high court.

Continue reading the full article at The Wall Street Journal (paywall)


Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow and director of Constitutional Studies at the Manhattan Institute. Follow him on Twitter here.

Christopher F. Rufo is a senior fellow and director of the Intiative on Critical Race Theory at the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor of City Journal. Adapted from City Journal.

Based on a recent MI issue brief.

Photo by Marc Calleja Lopez/iStock