Anti-DEI movement mirrors rise of societal pushback to leftism: ANALYSIS

As resistance to leftist social policies gains traction in American cities, so has backlash to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) on college campuses.

As pushback to leftist social policies rises in American cities, so has backlash to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) on college campuses. 

While mostly Republican states have led efforts to rollback DEI measures in higher education, Democrat-run cities and states have had their own share of cutting back against some aspects of the far-left agenda.

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During the holiday season, San Francisco decided to beef up its police presence in its downtown area in order to discourage crime like retail theft and drug use while increasing Christmas shopping. Mayor London Breed’s use of a $17 million grant to aid law enforcement arrived just several years after she announced the city would defund the police budget by $120 million in order to “remove barriers to progress.”

Less then two and a half years after Oregon voters decriminalized various drugs via Measure 110, Democrat Governor Tina Kotek is poised to sign House Bill 4002, which would recriminalize the possession of substances like fentanyl and cocaine. Kotek recently announced she will sign the legislation into law in part to help those with drug addiction after the bill overwhelmingly passed in both Democrat-led chambers of the state legislature.

Although he pledged that “New York City will remain a sanctuary city” when running for office in 2021, Mayor Eric Adams has stated that the city’s current migrant crisis “will destroy New York City,” and recently indicated he supports a shift in the city’s sanctuary city policy. “We should be communicating with ICE, and if ICE makes the determination of deporting, then they should,” the mayor said of illegal immigrants who commit serious crimes.

Resistance to left-wing policies has especially gained momentum at the state level against DEI college policies and practices, whether it be mandated diversity statements, the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT), or prohibiting funding for DEI programs and bureaucracies. 

While Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has led the way on enacting strong anti-DEI legislation, even famously proclaiming that his state is “where woke goes to die,” numerous other anti-DEI proposals have followed in other states within the past weeks as Campus Reform has reported.

In a 26-7 vote, the Kentucky Senate approved a bill on Feb. 13 aimed at promoting free speech on college campuses by blocking public universities from forcing students to embrace “divisive concepts,” such as the belief that the “Commonwealth of Kentucky or the United States of America is fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist.”

On Feb. 21, the Wyoming Senate passed two budget amendments that would remove state funding for the University of Wyoming’s intersectional “Gender and Women’s Studies” program, as well as the school’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Nearly a week later, the Iowa House of Representatives advanced legislation that would remove mandatory DEI statements for university students, faculty, applicants, and campus visitors, while also requiring that all DEI university positions be restructured for the benefit of all students to ensure compliance with appropriate state and federal laws. 

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After Hamas’ deadly attacks on Israelis on Oct. 7, Ivy League donors such as Jon Lindseth and Bill Ackman have been outspoken in linking DEI policies with the surge of campus anti-Semitism, namely in regard to the notion that DEI ideology can cause students to label groups like Jews as ‘oppressors.’

Lindseth, a Cornell alumnus and emeritus member of the university’s board of trustees, blasted a variety of DEI programs and their effects on the school in January, even calling for the resignation of President Martha Pollack for her “lack of leadership in the days following the October 7th massacre.”

In November, Ackman called out his alma mater for seemingly excluding Jews despite its staunchly pro-DEI campus environment. “The DEI statement makes clear that Harvard’s conception of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging does not include Jews (at least those that are not in one of the other welcomed DEI groups),” the billionaire hedge fund manager wrote in an open letter published to X.

As Campus Reform reported at the time, Ackman’s letter coincided with the “One Dollar Pledge” protest led by other Harvard alumni. The pledge calls for donors to offer no more than a $1 contribution for the foreseeable future due to the school’s handling of anti-Semitism on campus following the Hamas attacks. “Harvard’s response to the Hamas terrorist attacks of October 7th revealed that the University has lost its way,” the pledge asserts.

A spokesperson reportedly informed the Columbia Spectator in December that the pledge was signed by over 2,000 Harvard alumni. A similar Columbia University One Dollar Pledge has since emerged, urging the school to “stand on the right side of history, against hate, and foster a climate that brings our community together rather than drives us apart.”