Nebraska Lawmakers Join the Fight Against DEI Ideology in Public Colleges and Universities

Evan Poellinger | February 13, 2024
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The state of Nebraska has thrown its hat in the ring as part of the growing fight against Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) ideology at public colleges and universities.

Legislative Bill 1330, introduced by 15 members of Nebraska’s unicameral legislature, acts “to prohibit educational institutions from taking certain actions relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

The bill defines DEI programs as “describing structures, systems, relations of power, privilege, or subordination on the basis of race, sex, color, gender, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation” which define “methods to identify, dismantle, or oppose any such structure, system, relation of power, privilege, or subordination” and justify “differential treatment or benefit on the basis of race, sex, color, gender, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation” and advance “theories of unconscious or implicit bias.”

LB 1330 prohibits a variety of activities associated with DEI ideology, notably restricting DEI program participation requirements for employees, forbidding schools from spending taxpayer money on DEI programs, establishing an office dedicated to DEI, making hiring decisions or implementing procedures on the basis of demographics.

It also adds that, “an employee of a public educational institution who is required to participate in a diversity, equity, and inclusion program may bring an action against the public educational institution. If the employee demonstrates that the public educational institution violated this section, the employee is entitled to injunctive relief.”

The restrictions present the prospect of a huge blow to DEI in Nebraska’s public colleges and universities. At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), the Office of Diversity and Inclusion was allocated a budget of $1.1 million under UNL’s 2023-2024 operating budget.

Of the 49 senators in Nebraska’s unicameral legislature, roughly one-third have been responsible for introducing the bill. UNL issued a statement in response to the bill, declaring the institution to be a university for all Nebraskans and claiming “we’re working hard to compete more effectively for student talent in order to meet Nebraska’s urgent workforce needs and reverse the brain drain.”

LB 1330 joins a long line of initiatives taken by red and purple states to attempt to restrain the spread of DEI ideology. In January, Idaho passed legislation to prohibit DEI programs from public universities and governmental institutions. Others, such as Wisconsin, have taken measures outside of lawmaking, such as withholding funds from public universities unless they agree to reduce the presence of DEI programs on campus. Beyond Nebraska, it seems the anti-DEI movement will only continue to expand.