JSU Complies with Alabama Law Banning State-Funded DEI Programs

Jacksonville State University has become the inaugural public college in Alabama to declare its adherence to a recent law enacted by the Alabama Legislature and approved by Governor Kay Ivey. This law prohibits the utilization of state funds for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) offices and initiatives.

JSU President Don Killingsworth Jr. announced in a university-wide communication that the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at JSU will be officially closed by May 31.

In his message to students, faculty, and staff, Killingsworth emphasized that the decision to comply with the new law was not made lightly but deemed necessary.

According to the announcement, all employees in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion have been given the opportunity to accept positions in other departments on campus. The decision to close the office before the October 1 deadline, as required by the state, was made to allow these employees ample time to transition to their new roles before the busy fall semester starts.

“We are dedicated to maintaining a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of the Jax State community as we navigate through this transition.”

The Alabama Legislature passed the new law this year with the unanimous support of Republicans in both chambers. State Sen. Will Barfoot (R-Pike Road) and State Rep. Ed Oliver (R-Dadeville) sponsored the legislation, which was ultimately signed by Governor Ivey at the end of March.

Several prohibitions will go into effect on October 1, 2024, as stated by the new law. Taxpayer funds cannot be used by state agencies, public schools, state colleges, and universities for DEI offices or initiatives. Additionally, state institutions are not allowed to mandate or force students or employees to affirm, adopt, or adhere to any of the nine divisive concepts outlined in the legislation.

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The law makes it clear that students, faculty, organizations, or associations are allowed to host DEI programs or discussions that may involve divisive concepts. However, they must ensure that no state funds are used for these activities.

In a move that is being echoed by other states, Florida has taken action to eliminate its office of diversity at the University of Florida, the largest public college in the state. Instead, the university has decided to invest a $5 million DEI earmark into a retirement fund for the benefit of its faculty members. This decision reflects the growing trend of reallocating resources and prioritizing different aspects of education.

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