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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is one of the largest and fastest-growing topics in higher education this year.
The same was true last year as well. Media readily cover DEI controversies on campus and in the state house, where new legislative approaches are being prototyped. Universities must be prepared to speak to a variety of audiences — staff, faculty, students, news media, local politicians, and activists — when DEI conversations and controversies come to campus.

Key takeaways

Value and Values

The DEI debate is framed in terms of value and values. Do DEI initiatives uphold American values or are they anathema to them? Have DEI initiatives provided students and taxpayers with a return on investment? Defenders and detractors alike frame their arguments around these questions.

Interlocking Issues

DEI is such a potent issue because it is so easily amplified and intensified by pre-existing reputation related vulnerabilities. Interlocking issues — such as antisemitism, tenure and free speech — add a potency to DEI-related controversies that communicators and administrators should not (and cannot) ignore.

The future is Florida
and Texas

While an increasing number of states have passed or considered anti-DEI legislation, such action is furthest along in the Lone Star and Sunshine states. Universities there offer a window into what lies ahead for others moving forward.

Messaging Considerations

As universities work to shape – not react to – an evolving narrative, there are a variety of factors including recent legislative “innovations,” media bias trends, and emerging battlefronts in the culture wars that can inform messaging.


DEI & Antisemitism

DEI & College Sports

DEI & Medical School