Why has DEI — diversity, equity and inclusion — become controversial? Credit: Getty 

In late 2022, a group of conservative activists and academics set out to abolish the diversity, equity and inclusion programs at Texas’ public universities.

They linked up with a former aide to the state’s powerful lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, who made banning D.E.I. initiatives one of his top priorities. Setting their sights on well-known schools like Texas A&M, they researched which offices and employees should be expunged. A well-connected alumnus conveyed their findings to the A&M chancellor; the former Patrick aide cited them before a State Senate committee. The campaign quickly yielded results: In May, Texas approved legislation banishing all such programs from public institutions of higher learning.

Long before Claudine Gay resigned Harvard’s presidency this month under intense criticism of her academic record, her congressional testimony about campus antisemitism and her efforts to promote racial justice, conservative academics and politicians had begun making the case that the decades-long drive to increase racial diversity in America’s universities had corrupted higher […]

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