The University of Michigan is a leader in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, with one of the largest DEI operations in the country.

That makes it an easy target for DEI critics.

The assault on DEI has been well-coordinated and well-funded. Opponents of DEI are more vocal than its supporters and frankly, I believe they are winning the public relations war. They have succeeded in making diversity into a bad word, and have used a Jedi mind trick to convince people that DEI initiatives are divisive, and lead to reverse discrimination, that DEI is ideological indoctrination and that the costs of supporting it at schools like U-M are dramatically increasing — and ultimately wasting — taxpayer dollars.

These coordinated attacks are yielding results. The Chronicle of Higher Education's DEI Legislation Tracker has documented that since 2023, 52 anti-DEI bills have been introduced in 24 states. Seven have become law, and seven are awaiting a governor's signature.

Diversity is not a bad word, yet you wouldn’t know it from the efforts to rename and rebrand it on college campuses. It is telling that in many instances the work of DEI is still being done, but under new names and administrative structures.

Supporters of DEI have allowed DEI critics to control the narrative. To turn the tide of public sentiment in favor of DEI, supporters must sharpen their arguments, go on the offensive instead of always reacting, and acknowledge the limitations and well-intentioned but harmful missteps in some applications of DEI that provide ammunition for critics.

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