Posted on June 11, 2024

Eliminating Diversity Programs at Colleges and Universities Will Have Lasting Effects

JT Torres, UPI, June 10, 2024

Just four years ago, following the murder of George Floyd, almost every college and university in the U.S. had at least one diversity, equity and inclusion — or DEI — program. Many had existed long before. These programs ranged from DEI-related degrees and professional training to resources for culturally, linguistically and neurologically diverse students. But in the last year and a half in almost every state, 159 institutions have reduced or eliminated these programs.

New legislation in states like Texas and Florida have banned DEI programs outright. In other states, institutions are shuttering programs preemptively to avoid political pressure. This will have lasting effects.

In Texas, dozens of professional faculty and staff have already been fired. Minority students have lost access to community groups, cultural centers and resources. Furthermore, following the Supreme Court ruling in 2023 that race could not be considered in admissions decisions, scholarships for students with diverse racial identities have disappeared.

Eliminating DEI programs could have serious consequences for teaching and learning. As a scholar who researches the relationship between identity and learning, my work has shown that inclusivity is a prerequisite for how students form their identities in relation to the content they learn. For example, learning math becomes especially difficult, if not impossible, if a student does not identify positively with the subject. Math identity isn’t just based on competency. It’s also based on societal expectations, such as stereotypes of who is most likely to become a mathematician based on demographics — including racial, ethnic and gender identities.


Research shows that Black students are more likely to stay in college and earn a degree if they attend a historically Black institution versus a predominantly white one. Why? Because learning isn’t just about the curriculum offered. It’s also about students feeling connected to and supported by their institutions. When institutions represent a single cultural identity, students with minority identities can feel excluded and are less likely to thrive.


Effective teaching emphasizes students’ identities in order to make important connections with the learning. {snip}