Press Release: NAS Maryland Affiliate Report Finds Constitutional Problems in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policies at Twelve University System of Maryland Campuses

National Association of Scholars

Annapolis, Maryland; June 27, 2024—The Maryland Affiliate of the National Association of Scholars has released a new report finding constitutional problems with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs and policies within the University System of Maryland.

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion programs and officials create some of the most controversial policies in higher education,” said the Maryland Affiliate. “They divide campus members based on race, ethnicity, and gender into underrepresented and, logically, overrepresented groups, though the latter term is suppressed. Members of these groups are often treated differently in student admissions, financial aid decisions, campus spaces and events, and faculty and staff hiring and training.”

DEI activities can contravene important constitutional and statutory civil rights issues when they lead to unequal treatment and compelled speech requirements. Each year Maryland public campuses are required to file reports on their DEI activities. These reports are public documents but are rarely scrutinized. Consequently, the National Association of Scholars (NAS) Maryland Affiliate acquired these 2023 documents and has written a 67-page report on the DEI activities on each of the 12 University System of Maryland (USM) campuses.

The report presents five crucial recommendations to the Maryland Board of Regents, offering a clear roadmap to address potential conflicts. These include a firm commitment to intellectual diversity and academic freedom, avoidance of any form of compelled speech or activity, clear definitions of protected and unprotected speech, and the use of a standardized definition of underrepresentation across all campuses.

Following the landmark ruling in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College, 600 U.S. 181 (2023), which prohibits the use of racial preferences in public and private campus student admissions and restricts the use of race and ethnicity in other contexts, it is imperative to reassess Maryland DEI activities and ensure their alignment with constitutional and civil rights statutes.

“Using racial group ‘underrepresentation’ as the basis for making admissions, financial aid, and employment decisions was never conceptually sensible in Maryland,” explained the Maryland Affiliate. “Persons may check off a racial box on a campus form, but they are not asked to permit administrative usage of that information to favor or disfavor them as DEI policies often do. These race and ethnicity categories are overbroad or under-inclusive. Worse, the Supreme Court has clearly ruled that such racial and ethnic classifications are ambiguous and often stereotypical and therefore forbids their use in campus decision making.”

NAS is a network of scholars and citizens united by a commitment to academic freedom, disinterested scholarship, and excellence in American higher education. Membership in NAS is open to all who share a commitment to these broad principles. NAS publishes a journal and has state and regional affiliates. Visit NAS at www.nas.org.

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If you would like more information about this issue, please contact George R. La Noue, Maryland Affiliate President, or Robert B. Lyon, Maryland Affiliate Vice President, at [email protected]; or Teresa Manning at [email protected].

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