Kansas university officials have spent millions of dollars on diversity, equity, and inclusion, in what appears to be just a jobs program for DEI staff.

A state auditor could not determine what DEI means at state universities or what DEI programs produce, and Kansas lawmakers made a proactive decision to reinforce civil rights laws and protect everyone on state college campuses from the discriminatory effects DEI programs have had on campuses around the country.

Kansas legislators last week adopted a law that prohibits state university officials from requiring prospective employees to complete a DEI statement as a condition of employment or requiring students to write a DEI statement when they apply to a university. Faculty also cannot require professors to write a DEI statement as a condition of being promoted.

Research has found that such “loyalty oaths” to DEI are not uncommon. Those pledges to DEI advocate for racial preferences in college admissions and other university activities, though nearly all DEI offices have been silent on the recent antisemitic incidents that have occurred on campuses nationwide. Some races appear more important than others.

On Friday, Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, who has vetoed similar proposals that would have protected civil rights, allowed this new bill prohibiting DEI statements to become law without her signature. She said she has “concerns” about the legislation, but does not “believe” state universities are requiring such statements.

Yet in Kansas State University job postings, the school’s DEI statement is stamped on the announcements. Meanwhile, a state auditor released a report in March finding that state universities spent $9 million in taxpayer funds on DEI in the 2022-2023 school year.

The six state universities spent $45 million in total on DEI, money that funded more than 500 DEI staff positions and 202 training programs. At Kansas University, school officials spent $689 per student on DEI activities.

In a legislative hearing that reviewed the report, audit supervisor Heidi Zimmerman said the state universities did not have “a single shared definition of what DEI activities are”—which means the audit could be underreporting the actual figures, according to Heartlander News.

Kansas’ auditor is not the only one still searching for a definition for DEI.

The Iowa Board of Regents also struggled to determine what, exactly, DEI is when it released a report calling for an end to DEI on state campuses last year.

A survey of human resource officers at private businesses found that 71% of respondents said their organizations did not have a definition of DEI, though many have mandatory DEI training programs. While DEI staffers have failed to define their ideas, the offices at colleges have found time to host drag queen shows and sponsor parades advocating for radical ideas on “gender.”

Kansas lawmakers have added their state to a list that includes Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Utah, Idaho, Wisconsin, and Indiana where policymakers are doubling down on state and federal civil rights laws and rejecting DEI.

Officials in other states delay the condemnation of DEI at their own risk.

Columbia University has resorted to online classes after antisemitic protests broke out late last week. The school has not been able to guarantee student safety—and neither have school officials at Yale, where similar violence is occurring, causing injury to at least one student.

Both schools have DEI offices—so, if DEI staffers are not fostering a diversity of ideas, promoting equal treatment, and making students feel included, then how are they defining “diversity, equity, and inclusion”?

And in case Kansans think these problems only happen at Ivy League institutions, the state’s two flagship universities, KU and Kansas State University, both have DEI offices. To its credit, KU’s DEI office issued a statement opposing antisemitism in November 2022, though the office sidestepped Hamas’ terrorism in its newsletter of September-October 2023, following the Islamic militant group’s terrorist acts of Oct. 7.  

Around the country, DEI offices prove to be radical operations that show little interest in civil rights or equality under the law. Kansas taxpayers should not have to pay for them.

State lawmakers have taken a crucial step that protects free expression and embraces the fundamental idea that we are not defined by our skin color.