USC Dissolves DEI Office, Campus Pride Removes Colleges From ‘Best’ List

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Anti-DEI efforts continue to impact higher education institutions across the country since the political trend began in late 2022.
University of South Carolina. (Photo credit: Henry de Saussure Copeland/Flickr)

Anti-DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) efforts continue to impact higher education and other establishments across the country since the political trend began in late 2022.

Recently, the University of South Carolina (USC) announced the closing of its Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The move comes as legislators review proposed anti-DEI laws in the state and threaten budget cuts targeting DEI programming at public institutions.

USC officials are reorganizing operations in a new office titled the Division of Access, Civil Rights and Community Engagement, with the vice president of DEI transitioning to vice president of the new division. No staff members have lost their jobs due to the change, reports The State, a local newspaper.

The USC decision mirrors actions announced in August by the University of North Texas, where officials are dissolving the school’s DEI office and reorganizing and transferring programming to other departments. 

As Texas and Florida continue to adjust to the requirements of their anti-DEI laws, the nonprofit organization Campus Pride has taken action and removed four public institutions from its list of the most friendly campuses for LGBTQ+ people. The University of North Florida, the University of Central Florida, Texas Tech University, and the University of Texas at Dallas have been deleted due to new restrictions or bans on LGBTQ+ programs and services. These schools will remain on the Campus Pride Index with ratings that will likely drop, the organization announced.

The Florida State Board of Education recently voted to enact stricter penalties against transgender college students and employees who violate a law under House Bill 1521, barring the use of bathrooms that align with their gender identity. Staff who use campus bathrooms that don’t match their sex assigned at birth more than once, even after being told to leave, may face “verbal warnings, written reprimands, suspension without pay, and termination,” the rule states. The restrictions also extend to student housing facilities.

This article was published in our October 2023 issue.