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University of Wyoming axes DEI department but preserves ideology

The University of Wyoming announced Friday it would eliminate its Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, but the university will move the office’s staff and programming to other departments following legislation signed by the governor.

The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees voted unanimously to scrap the department after a budget bill signed into law by Gov. Mark Gordon (R-WY) stripped $1.73 million from the school’s $503.7 million budget. Gordon used a line-item veto to save DEI ideology in programming, only getting rid of the dedicated office.

Wyoming is not alone in passing anti-DEI bills that have been criticized on the Right for essentially banning the words “diversity, equity, and inclusion” but not meaningfully blocking the racialized and gender-centric ideology those words represent. As the Washington Examiner reported, Texas’s ban was initially understood to ban only the use of the DEI label despite the fact that lawmakers there did not attempt to save the ideology.

“We received a strong message from the state’s elected officials to change our approach to DEI issues. At the same time, we have heard from our community that many of the services that might have incorrectly been categorized under DEI are important for the success of our students, faculty and staff,” school President Ed Seidel said in a statement announcing the changes. “These initial steps are a good-faith effort on the part of the university to respond to legislative action while maintaining essential services.”

The University of Wyoming said in its announcement that it would no longer allow DEI statements or dedication to the ideology to be considered for employment or in employee reviews. According to a school press release, a committee appointed to review DEI practices after the $1.73 million cut recommended six immediate actions to be taken and identified about 12 “practices and programs that might generally be categorized as giving preferential treatment to certain groups of people.”

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However, the school also said that even though it is getting rid of the DEI office, it is “committed to maintaining services to students that, in some cases, have existed for decades” and “in cases where ‘preferential’ programs are deemed essential to help students — such as the Wyoming Latina Youth Conference and Women in STEM activities — private funding sources will be pursued to continue them.”

“Duties that have been under the DEI office — including federal Title VI compliance, support for religious accommodations and Americans with Disabilities Act coordination — will be reassigned to other UW units,” the school said in its announcement. “To assist in that transition, a vice provost position will be created in the Office of the Provost, with that individual also serving as a special adviser to the president.”

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