The UNC Board of Governors’ Committee on University Governance voted unanimously Wednesday in support of a resolution to remove and replace Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) language from the UNC System’s policy manual.

DEI initiatives and associated policies swept over Universities and colleges across the nation following the 2020 George Floyd murder and the associated deadly riots that animated the “woke” social justice movement. An offshoot of Critical Race Theory (CRT), DEI proponents accuse traditional American systems of structural racism and believe universities should be used to re-engineer American society away from color-blind meritocracy and toward equality of outcomes (equity).

The proposed policy change at the UNC System appears aimed at complying with recently passed state law prohibiting state agencies from promoting a list of concepts and activities associated with CRT. The concepts, 13 in all, include those such as “One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex,” and “A meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist.”

Opposition to the embedding of such concepts within college institutions, or even K-12 public education, has grown in concert with the proliferation of DEI offices and initiatives across the education space. The aforementioned state statute was passed into law in response to growing calls from voters and parents to end the embrace and promotion of social ideologies from our governmental and education institutions.

While the resolution passed by the committee Wednesday focused on changing language in the System’s policy manual and still must go to the full UNC Board of Governors for a vote, its unanimous support at the committee level indicates impending adoption.

The tangible realignments with said new policy mean the UNC System will necessarily end university-backed activities, training programs, and staff offices built on the foundation of DEI and in furtherance of the prohibited concepts.

The new policy sections, replacing current DEI language, include:

  • Nondiscrimination in Employment Practices & Educational Programs and Activities
  • Ensuring Equality of All Persons & Viewpoints
  • Commitment to the Freedom of Speech & Expression
  • Maintaining Academic Freedom
  • Commitment to Student Success & Employee Wellbeing
  • Maintaining Institutional Neutrality

The new language is relatively explicit in targeting the kind of campus-sponsored activism that has sparked such widespread opposition to the DEI movement. When it comes to institutional neutrality, the proposed changes read:

“Every employing subdivision of the University in both its organization and operation shall adhere to and comply with the strictures of institutional neutrality required by G.S. 116-300 (3a). Accordingly, no employing subdivision or employment position within the University shall be organized, be operated, speak on behalf of the University, or contract with third parties to provide training or consulting services regarding: matters of contemporary political debate or social action as those terms are used in Section 300.5.1 of the UNC Policy Manual; any prescribed “view of social policy” or “political controversies of the day,” as those terms are used in G.S. 116-300 (3) and (3a); or in furtherance of the concepts listed in G.S. 126-14.6(c)(1)–(13).[…]”

Critics of anti-DEI reforms have accused reformers of threatening free expression. The proposed language for new UNC System policies, however, contains explicit protections for freedom of speech and expression for faculty and students or student-run organizations.

You can view the full replacement policy language here. The resolution must go before the full UNC Board of Governors for a vote at their next regular meeting in May.