A new bill was introduced this past Tuesday in the West Virginia legislature which is seeking to ban the policies regarding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for all college campuses.
The bill was introduced by State Delegate Chris Pritt with the name House Bill 3503. The bill seeks to fully abolish diversity statements and all race-based preferential hiring practices, ban all mandatory diversity training, and ban all of the state’s universities, colleges, and other educational institutions from funding any DEI activities. This new law has been made in the same vein as a number of other initiatives from Republican-led states.
Firstly, the bill entirely bans “diversity statements” from being required for any and all college admissions and employment applications, promotion processes, hiring contract renewals; or any administrative decisions by colleges. The bill labels 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 new bill also seeks to ban places of higher education from offering preferential treatment to applicants, students, staff, or faculty because of any expressed opinion or action in support of an individual or group on the basis of race, color, sex, gender identity, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. It also seeks to ban them from giving treatment to applicants for employment or admission on the same grounds, notwithstanding other laws.
Going further, the bill seeks to ban all mandatory diversity training for all places of higher education. More specifically, it seeks to ban any program which claims 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 taken down, and that differential treatment should be offered because of this.
It also seeks to put a stop to 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.”
Lastly, the bill seeks to ban colleges and universities from handing out money to take part in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion activities; set up, support, sustain, or staff an office specifically for DEI; or employ anyone to work as a DEI officer.
DEI officers and officers which would be prohibited because of the new bill include the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion offices at Concord University, Glenville State University, Marshall University, Shepherd University, West Liberty University, and West Virginia University.