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The Murray State News

The Murray State News

Murray State President issues statement on proposed DEI bills

Jill Smith

University presidents across the state are speaking out against legislation aimed at diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education. 

Senate Bill 6, which passed the Senate 26-7 on Feb. 13, would prohibit students or staff at public colleges or universities from endorsing certain concepts that the bill describes as “discriminatory.”

House Bill 9, would prevent universities and colleges from disbursing “any resources” to support DEI programs or DEI officers. House Bill 228 would require the Board of Regents at each public university and community college to establish a process to review a faculty member’s performance every four years. 

Murray State President Bob Jackson said in a statement sent to The News on Feb. 20, the University is continuously monitoring bills that involve higher education. 

Creating a dynamic and diverse university community for Student Success’ is a cornerstone of our university-affirmed strategic plan,” Jackson said. “Within our strategic attributes as a public comprehensive university, we are dedicated to diversity, global awareness and intellectual curiosity and we actively engage students, faculty, staff and the community in collaborative scholarship, creative activity and research.”

In response to the DEI legislation, Jackson said administration is working to continue providing students with an impact and high-quality college experience. 

Our strategic plan continues to be THE road map for our institution and allows us to remain focused with an unwavering commitment to fulfill the needs of our entire campus community through academic excellence, student success and thoughtful public service in our west Kentucky region, the Commonwealth and beyond,” Jackson said. “Importantly, I am very proud of our world-class faculty and staff, our excellent students and alumni and friends who make Murray State University ‘the finest place we know.”

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto released a statement on Wednesday, Feb. 14, opposing SB 6 and HB 9 and HB 228. He said the institution doesn’t speak on public policy, unless it will impact the campus community in a significant way

Across this campus, staff and faculty work to support students of color and from underrepresented backgrounds. We should value and support that work, not diminish it,” Capilouto said. “Clearly, our policymakers believe in these efforts. The funding formula they have adopted measures progress on, among other things, our success in enrolling and graduating students from underrepresented backgrounds”.

Capilouto said these bills are “deeply concerning.”

“The truth is that our world and our state are changing,” Capilouto said. “We are growing more diverse. Indeed, we must, if our state is to grow economically. We should embrace that change and harness the opportunities it presents, not shrink from it.”

University of Louisville President, Kim Schatzel, released her statement Monday, Feb. 20 and affirmed her support for DEI initiatives within the state. 

“I strongly believe that you cannot deliver a high-quality university education without a diverse classroom and campus – inclusive of all demographics, identities and ideologies,” Schatzel said in her statement. “Only in such circumstances and with such experiences will our students be prepared to foster their own and others’ excellence in a diverse global economy. In short, a diverse and inclusive campus better prepares our students to lead.”

Unlike Capilouto, Schatzel did not explicitly state where she stands on current legislative bills to limit DEI work.

HB9 is awaiting a hearing in the House Education Committee and HB228 was presented  on Jan. 22, but no vote was taken.  

SB6 heads to the house.

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About the Contributor
Jill Smith
Jill Smith, Co-Editor In Chief/News Editor
Jillian Smith is Co-EIC and News Editor at The News. Smith is a graduate student pursuing a Masters of Science in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. Smith is also a Graduate Assistant in Student Affairs. Beyond working and class, Smith enjoys reading, coffee, and listening to music.

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