The resignation of Claudine Gay as president of Harvard was just the beginning, conservatives vow.
An article from the Wall Street Journal outlined how conservative donors, lawmakers and activists are celebrating Gay’s downfall and planning their next move in what they see as a battle against “wokeness” in education, including diversity, equity and inclusion.
“We must not stop until we have abolished DEI ideology from every institution in America,” wrote Christopher Rufo, member of a conservative think tank who helped publicize plagiarism claims against Gay.
Now on the horizon are calls from at least one billionaire donor to end DE&I outright at Harvard and draft legislation to defund DE&I programs at state schools, according to the Wall Street Journal. Couple that with the affirmative action Supreme Court decision from 2023, and it’s clear that diversity and inclusion efforts are under siege.
Why it matters: Let’s be clear: Gay made mistakes in her handling of the fallout from the Israel-Hamas conflict. She herself acknowledged that in an op-ed published in the New York Times. But it’s also clear that both her focus on DE&I and her race and gender made her a target for activists with a broader agenda than Harvard itself.
This issue will not go away. Especially with an election year in the United States upon us, expect to hear more noise around this issue.
Be ready now.
Press your organization to understand how deep its commitment to DE&I goes. It was easy to make commitments in the summer of 2020 when everyone was fired up about racial justice — but it’s getting harder now. You must decide where you stand and what actions align with those values.
Bring lawyers in now to understand where your program may be vulnerable to legal attack. And if you have people of color, queer people, people of minority religions, or other diverse people in positions of prominence and power, create a plan now. Identify areas where they may face bad-faith attacks and create a comms plan now to protect them.
This issue is coming. There is no reason to be caught flat-footed. Prepare now.
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