DEI receiving 'a performance review' by state auditors in Mississippi

Mississippi’s public colleges and universities have until Apr. 20 to send an accounting of their spending on diversity, equity, and inclusion to the Office of the State Auditor.

A spokesperson for the office told Campus Reform that the audit is about accountability and determining how universities are defining DEI.

Mississippi’s public colleges and universities have until Thursday to send an accounting of their spending on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to the state. 

The request comes from an Apr. 6 email sent by the Office of the State Auditor to the eight schools in the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHE). In her email, Laura Gray of the office’s Government Accountability Division calls the probe “a performance review” of DEI programs. 

The Sun Herald recently shared a copy of the email sent to Delta State University in Cleveland and writes that the office made its request based on a similar audit by Fla. Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

[RELATED: 1 in 8 FL HS students refuses to attend college in state because of DeSantis]

Fletcher Freeman, a spokesperson for the office, told Campus Reform that the audit is about holding universities accountable for how they spend taxpayer dollars. 

Freeman says that the audit will also determine how universities define DEI because of the variation in programs from one university to the next. DEI programs, he continues, could involve “scholarships [for] underprivileged kids,” but they could also include training conducted by expensive contractors. 

In Florida, documents obtained by Manhattan Institute senior fellow Christopher Rufo provided context for DEI spending reported by universities in response to the DeSantis probe. 

One set of documents shows the extent to which DEI programs at Florida International University (FIU) train students for “left-wing activism” and encourage them to think of people in terms of “oppressor” and “oppressed.” 

[RELATED: Exposé reveals one Florida university’s divisive DEI programs]

Florida’s HB 999 would prohibit public universities from funding DEI programs, regardless of the funds’ source.  

Public universities in Texas are making similar changes after receiving a directive from the office of Gov. Greg Abbott. The University of Houston, Texas A&M, and University of Texas systems dropped diversity statements and are reviewing other hiring practices to keep DEI out of their considerations. 

Mississippi is still in its data collection phase, according to Freeman, but state audits usually result in recommendations that are intended to save tax dollars. 

He is unsure whether universities will comply but says that his office will work with them to clarify what they need to report. 

Freeman told Campus Reform that Mississippi’s state auditor has a law enforcement division and is “one of the odd auditors in the nation that can actually statutorily go after information.”

Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly.