The effects of the Supreme Court’s June 2023 affirmative action ruling are officially underway as the state of Oklahoma has begun dismantling diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs in higher education.
According to FOX-23 in Tulsa, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has signed Executive Order 2023-31 requiring state agencies and universities to launch a review process geared toward eliminating any DEI personnel considered to be non-critical.
“In Oklahoma, we’re going to encourage equal opportunity, rather than promising equal outcomes,” Governor Stitt said in a statement per the outlet. “Encouraging our workforce, economy, and education systems to flourish means shifting focus away from exclusivity and discrimination, and toward opportunity and merit. We’re taking politics out of education and focusing on preparing students for the workforce.”
What’s more, the executive order states that “state funds, property, or resources” will not be used to support DEI across the board.
In a letter to current students and alumni, University of Oklahoma President Joseph Harroz Jr. expressed his concerns surrounding the recent news.
“For many of us, this news evokes deep concern and uncertainty about the future, and in many ways feels like a step backward,” he said. “Please be assured that key to our ongoing successes as the state’s flagship university – now and forever – are the foundational values that have served as our constant north star: access and opportunity for all of those with the talent and tenacity to succeed; being a place of belonging for all who attend; dedication to free speech and inquiry; and civility in our treatment of each other.”
The following protocols affected by this executive order include preferential treatment based on race, color, sex, ethnicity, or national origin; requiring DEI education; using DEI in hiring practices; and mandating anyone disclose their pronouns.
As previously reported by AFROTECH, the latest Oklahoma executive order comes after the Supreme Court ruled in late June 2023 that colleges and universities can no longer explicitly consider race in determining college admissions, also known as affirmative action.