Professor: DEI Initiatives May Result In Restricted Free Speech On Campus

A recent study shows that the inclusion of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs on college campuses may have a negative impact on free speech.

The recent study by political science professor Eric Kaufmann is based on data from 2021 and 2022 from several sources regarding the implementation of such DEI programs, which have increased in profile since the 2020 death of George Floyd.

Kaufmann analyzed data compiled from a survey regarding free speech on campus and information from 65 campuses and found what he believes is a direct correlation between the use of such DEI practices and perceived limitations on free speech on campus.

Kaufmann wrote that “there is a significant amount of evidence that DEI is bad for campus speech climates and an even greater amount of evidence that DEI does very little to promote viewpoint inclusion.”

In particular, Kaufmann found a significant number of DEI personnel at a number of schools, including those in the Ivy League.

The data Kaufmann cited from the Heritage Foundation appears to support the claim that there is an increased proportion of such employees relative to the student body’s ideology. Kaufmann posits that such offices may make “open and honest discussions of race more difficult.”

The professor also cited 2022 data from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), which included a survey of 45,000 students from more than 200 colleges.

Kaufmann believes that there is a strong correlation between DEI programs on campus and free speech on campus. He believes that the data supports examples such as less tolerance for conservative speakers and that students hold more left-of-center views.

The recent news comes during a nationwide debate over the use of DEI on campus. In particular, the topic has gained attention in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is seeking a ban on DEI curricula from the state’s campuses.

The bill was recently approved by the state House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Subcommittee and will move to the state Senate.

DeSantis has been critical of the use of DEI, hosting a roundtable discussion calling such programs “scams.” The Florida governor said that the state will not “back down to the woke mob,” and described such programs as “political indoctrination.”

The governor’s office said that he is seeking a prohibition on state institutions of higher learning from “funding DEI programs or activities and prohibit general education courses that distort events” and would bar colleges from “solicitation of pledges” to DEI and Critical Race Theory (CRT) as a condition of employment.