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Oklahoma Governor Signs Order to 'End' DEI Offices

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed an executive order Dec. 13 prohibiting state agencies, colleges, and universities from using state funds to support diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin StittOklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt“In Oklahoma, we’re going to encourage equal opportunity, rather than promising equal outcomes,” Stitt said. “Encouraging our workforce, economy, and education systems to flourish means shifting focus away from exclusivity and discrimination, and toward opportunity and merit. We’re taking politics out of education and focusing on preparing students for the workforce.”

Executive Order 2023-31 requires state agencies and institutes for higher education to initiate a review of DEI positions, departments, activities, procedures, and programs to eliminate and dismiss non-critical personnel.

Oklahoma Voice reported that University of Oklahoma President Joseph Harroz Jr. sent an email to students, faculty, and staff, explaining the order would effectively end campus diversity, equity, and inclusion offices.

The order prohibits the use of state funds, property, or resources by executive state agencies and institutions for higher education on DEI initiatives and diversity programs “to the extent they grant preferential treatment based on one person’s particular race, color, ethnicity or national origin.”

Oklahoma Voice reported that the governor, during a news conference, stood behind a lectern adorned with a sign reading, “defunding discrimination."

“I’m signing this executive order today to remind all state-funded institutions that we see all Oklahomans as equal regardless of race, color, sex, ethnicity or national origin,” said Stitt.

The University of Oklahoma response expressed disappointment in the order and read, in part, that “while we are obligated to comply, the University of Oklahoma will always remain committed to its core principles that make OU a place of belonging where the American Dream is available to all.”

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