Alabama Defunds College DEI Across State

University of Alabama | Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The State of Alabama will soon ban diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at its colleges and universities. 

Officials recently passed a bill that defunds or severely alters DEI programs in higher education institutions. The state legislature passed SB 129 on Tuesday. It is set to go into effect on October 1.

There was serious disagreement expressed between officials around the state while the bill was being considered.

The mayor of Birmingham, home to the University of Alabama in Birmingham, posted on Facebook last month that black athletes should consider enrolling in colleges outside of Alabama if the bill became law.

“Would you be cool with your child playing at schools where diversity among staff is actively being discouraged?” Mayor Randall Woodfin wrote. “Although I’m the biggest Bama fan, I have no problem organizing Black parents and athletes to attend other institutions outside of the state where diversity and inclusion are prioritized.”

Rep. Ed Oliver (R-Dadeville) defended SB 129, arguing that DEI would only “deepen divisions and set up race-exclusionary programs and indoctrinate students into a far-left political ideology.”

The University of Alabama (UA) in Tuscaloosa, the state’s flagship and national football powerhouse, had a short-lived DEI program that began to take its current form in 2019-2020.

However, the program was persistently mired in scandal and faced opposition from lawmakers and community members.

One such example came when Vice President of Student Life Myron Pope was taken in by the West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force and charged with soliciting prostitution in February 2022.

Pope had been one of UA’s largest champions of DEI at UA. Pope’s professional bio credits him with establishing numerous “short- and long-term organizational goals, objectives, strategic plans, policies, and procedures focusing on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)” at the university.

Although the charges against Pope were eventually dropped, news of his arrest made national news and triggered his resignation.

The move to ban DEI in Alabama follows a similar effort in Texas. A prohibition against DEI in higher education took effect on January 1, 2024. However, enforcement and adherence to the law have seemingly been spotty.

Numerous Texas universities have been identified by The Dallas Express as potentially violating the law through mandates in job descriptions. Dallas College, one of DFW’s major junior colleges, had a dozen potentially unlawful DEI requirements embedded in job descriptions.

Similarly, the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M, and several other major universities in the Lone Star State were identified as possibly out of compliance with the state’s prohibition. DX’s investigation prompted various responses from institutions, with many scrapping the job descriptions, dodging requests for comment, or delaying their responses.

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