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May 19, 2024 4:14 pm

By Shanteya Hudson, Producer

Friday, April 12, 2024   

Conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion are on the rise as lawmakers propose bills to restrict or ban DEI in state-funded institutions.

The Black Voters Matter Fund, along with students and educators from North Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee, are joining forces to discuss the impact of anti-DEI initiatives in higher education.

Kylie Rice, who attends a Historically Black College in North Carolina, expressed her concerns during a Higher Education Under Siege discussion. She believes DEI efforts are vital in combating discrimination and creating opportunities for marginalized people.

“The critics are saying, ‘You’re only getting hired for DEI,’ Rice observed. “I see DEI as a tool of equity – like, I would have been overlooked otherwise, and I’m going to take it and I’m going to show you why I should have been hired regardless.”

Critics argue that DEI efforts sideline other students, and claim it isn’t the state’s responsibility to fund social beliefs.

Across the country, more than 30 states are grappling with bills that target DEI funding or practices in public schools. North Carolina hasn’t passed this type of legislation — but last year, state lawmakers passed a bill preventing institutions in the University of North Carolina system from inquiring about social or political beliefs.

Supporters of DEI say banning it has had a significant impact on college programs, jobs and student organizations nationwide. Samson Cook, who goes to college in Tennessee, said it’s important to keep students updated about what’s happening on their campus and the challenges they face.

“We have a Student Trustee Committee,” Cook explained. “Their job is that we inform our students about the issues that are happening with, involving, the university. We use social media, we post newsletters every month, we have these weekly updates with our Student Trustee.”

Ten states, including Alabama, have passed recent legislation opposing DEI efforts. Alabama specifically prohibits the use of state funds for diversity, equity and inclusion programs and offices at state agencies.

This story is republished from Public News Service under a Creative Commons license. Read the original story.