The West Virginia legislature introduced a bill Tuesday to ban several pillars of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion industry on college campuses.
House Bill 3503 was introduced by State Delegate Chris Pritt. The bill would abolish diversity statements and race-based preferential hiring practices, ban mandatory diversity training, and ban the state’s colleges and universities and other educational institutions from funding DEI activities. The new law follows similar moves in multiple Republican-led states.
First, the bill bans “diversity statements” from being required on college admissions and employment applications, hiring contract renewals, or promotion processes; or administrative decisions by colleges. The bill defines a “diversity statement” as:
[A]ny written or oral statement discussing an applicant’s or candidate’s:
(A) Race, sex, color, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation;
(B) Views on, experience with, or contributions to diversity, equity; inclusion; marginalized
groups; anti-racism; social justice; intersectionality; confessing one’s race-based privilege; or
(C) Views on or experience with the race, sex, color, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual
orientation of students and co-workers; or
(D) Level of support for any theory or practice supporting differential treatment of any
individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, gender, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual
The bill then bans institutions of higher education from giving preferential treatment to applicants, students, staff, or faculty due to an expressed opinion or action in support of an individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation. It also bans them from giving preferential treatment to applicants for admission or employment on the same grounds, notwithstanding other laws.
Next, the bill bans mandatory diversity training in higher education institutions. Specifically, the bill prohibits all programs that claim American or West Virginia society is “based on or significantly influenced by present-day institutional structures or relations of power, privilege, subordination, or oppression that operate on the basis of race, sex, color, gender, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation, or any intersection of these classes”; that those structures need to be dismantled; and that differential treatment should be conferred on these bases.
It also bans trainings on “unconscious or implicit bias, cultural appropriation, identity group allyship, microaggressions, micro-invalidation, group marginalization, anti-racism, systemic oppression, structural racism, structural inequity, transphobia, homophobia, heteronormativity, racial or sexual privilege, social justice, intersectionality, neo-pronouns, inclusive language, gender identity, gender theory, or related formulations of these concepts.”
Finally, the bill prohibits colleges and universities from spending any money to engage in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion activities; establish, sustain, support, or staff a DEI office; or employ an individual to serve as a DEI officer. Activities banned under the bill include: race-based admissions policy, differential treatment or special benefits to individuals or groups on the basis of race or sex, except where allowed by law, or promote DEI as official institutional policy.
DEI offices and officers that would be banned under the bill would include the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion offices at Concord University, Glenville State University, Marshall University, Shepherd University, West Liberty University, and West Virginia University.
The West Virginia bill follows efforts in several other states to stop the spread of woke indoctrination in schools. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis overhauled the Board of Trustees at New College of Florida, a move which prompted other colleges to ban Critical Race Theory in response. Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed an Executive Order to ban CRT in schools in her state. And Texas lawmakers introduced a bill to ban DEI initiatives on campus in December.