House imposes fine for misuse of DEI policy

The House bill imposes $10,000 fine on Kansas public colleges, universities for misuse of DEI policy. The bill will exempt private colleges and lowers financial penalty from $100,000 per offense.

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March 21, 2024 - 1:47 PM

Salina Republican Rep. Steve Howe, left, led the Kansas House to tentative approval of House Bill 2460, which would forbid public colleges and universities from mandating adherence to diversity, equity and inclusion pledges in admissions and hiring. Photo by Kansas Reflector screen capture from the Kansas Legislature’s YouTube channel

TOPEKA — The Kansas House tentatively approved legislation Wednesday imposing a $10,000 fine for every instance in which a public university or college tied student admissions or faculty hiring to an ideological pledge or statement related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

The bill crafted by Rep. Steven Howe, chairman of the House Higher Education Budget Committee, wouldn’t apply to private or parochial colleges and universities in Kansas. Amid bipartisan criticism, the committee reduced the financial penalty from $100,000 but retained provisions allowing the attorney general to take alleged offenders to district court if infractions reported to the Kansas Board of Regents remained after a 90-day grace period.

Political special-interest groups and state legislatures have campaigned for years against K-12 and higher education policies related to diversity, equity and inclusion — or simply, DEI. Advocates say attempts to make campuses more welcoming to historically disenfranchised students or faculty amounted to discrimination against people offended by that type of administrative intervention. Supporters of DEI believe the opposite.

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