Kentucky Moves to Limit DEI Programs

( – Republican lawmakers in Kentucky recently led a Senate panel to advance a bill that would limit diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs on college campuses while facing objections from their Democratic colleagues.

After the bill was introduced on day one of the current legislative session, its first committee hearing was finally held over a month later, at the 60-day session’s halfway point.

Republican supporters of the bill believe it is a necessary response to what they view as discriminatory practices and trends that have seeped into higher education over the last few decades. Those opposed believe the measure threatens to roll back efforts that have expanded opportunities for underrepresented and underprivileged groups on college campuses.

The Kentucky Senate Education Committee ultimately supported the bill and approved its advancement to the Senate floor for consideration, where it will almost certainly pass due to an overwhelming GOP majority.

The lead sponsor of the bill is Republican Sen. Mike Wilson of Bowling Green, who said lawmakers have every right to scrutinize DEI programs because they have a duty to evaluate how Kentucky state funds are spent on education. He also claims the bill does not prohibit or prevent diversity initiatives on college campuses.

Wilson said the bill would ensure that state funds go toward “promoting educational excellence and rigor” to assist the academic success of students in the modern “intellectual economy” rather than toward “trendy” and “divisive” theories promoted by “ivory tower” intellectuals.

Democratic Sen. Reginald Thomas of Lexington rebuked that notion and claimed GOP lawmakers misunderstand DEI programs, which he says help create more opportunities for students in underrepresented groups. Thomas said the “fundamental notion” of such programs is to include everybody and “that all people belong” in college.

Statehouses throughout the nation are all ongoing similar debates, especially after the Supreme Court recently struck down affirmative action practices in college admissions processes. The decision found that aiming to meet diversity quotas on campuses based on identity groups rather than academic merit qualifies as discrimination.

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