Statement from NADOHE President & CEO Paulette Granberry Russell on the House Hearing on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

March 8, 2024

What we heard in yesterday’s House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing was a continuation of the steady stream of gross misrepresentations of our work to pursue a political agenda. The charade of a hearing made clear, if there was ever any doubt, that opponents to diversity on college campuses have no interest in the success of all students. Instead, they seek to malign our successes and characterize them as “promoting hate,” inflaming “racial tension” and driving a wedge between communities by their manufactured “culture wars.” These opponents want to capitalize on fear and resentment in order to dismantle decades of progress to support students from historically marginalized and underrepresented communities. 

Let’s be clear on what diversity, equity, and inclusion mean. As noted by one of the House representatives who spoke in support of our work, “DEI initiatives strengthen students, not divide them.” The terms to describe the work may vary, as do the approaches, but the underlying purpose and goal endures: Diversity, equity, and inclusion work addresses student needs to support student success. 

As was noted in the hearing, if there are concerns about particular practices or programs, rather than attack efforts broadly, we should fix the problem – and understand, as stated by a witness who spoke before the committee in support of our work, that “DEI” is not monolithic. As we know, the goal of the opposition is to dismantle this work in its entirety, by conjuring up fears and disdain at particular efforts that acknowledge differences based on race, gender, and sexuality, and by targeting support of trans and non-binary students. Absent a commitment to these efforts that take place every day on campuses, our students will suffer. 

The idea that increased diversity among students on college campuses diminishes the quality of education is particularly offensive. It is outrageous to suggest that expanding opportunity to talented students from different backgrounds somehow dilutes the rigor of the opportunity itself. The views expressed yesterday by the opponents of our work go against the basic ideals of the very founding of our democracy. 

Although the majority of the hearing addressed diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in the context of students, these efforts to dismantle diversity, equity, and inclusion impact staff, faculty, and the broader community. What is happening requires purposeful effort from us all to ensure that we not only preserve hard-fought gains, but that we also preserve diversity’s role in driving change in and outside of higher education.  

NADOHE will continue to speak and act forcefully against those who seek to discredit our expertise and our work. We must continue to fight this ridiculous assault for the sake of our students. Shame on those who so carelessly and recklessly toy with the futures of our students to advance their own political goals. 


The National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) is the preeminent voice for chief diversity officers. As the leader of the national conversation on diversity, equity, and inclusion, it investigates, influences, and innovates to transform higher education so that inclusive excellence lives at its core.