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Senate Bill 1357 — Higher ed, diversity, funds

Senate Bill 1357 — Higher ed, diversity, funds

Niklas Kleinworth
February 21, 2024

Bill Description: Senate Bill 1357 prohibits the establishment of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) offices, hiring DEI employees, and mandating DEI training in Idaho’s higher education institutions.

Rating: +5

Does the bill reduce or eliminate layers of bureaucracy, allowing universities to be more flexible, improve feedback mechanisms, and decentralize decisions to the individual level? (+) Conversely, does the bill create or increase layers of bureaucracy? (-)

Senate Bill 1357 explicitly bans DEI bureaucracies in Idaho’s higher education institutions. The bill goes to great lengths to outline legislative intent through its definition of DEI, DEI offices, and DEI officers.

Idaho’s colleges and universities have falsely claimed that they do not have any DEI bureaucracies or officers in their ranks. The most well-known example may be a 2022 testimony from Scott Green, president of the University of Idaho, when he appeared before the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.

This bill is highly specific in its definition of what constitutes a DEI office or officer by pointing to specific examples. This legislation names 11 DEI offices and 35 job titles statewide. These offices and positions provide tangible examples of what the Legislature means when defining these terms.

Under this legislation, we could expect that these offices would disappear, eliminating layers of bureaucracy.


Senate Bill 1357 prohibits any of Idaho’s public colleges and universities from mandating diversity training for students or staff. This reduces bureaucratic obstacles for students to attend these institutions and for staff to keep their job.


Does the bill protect free speech and academic freedom in research, teaching, and learning for the purpose of the advancement of through and the pursuit of knowledge? Conversely, does the bill restrict free speech or academic freedom?

Senate Bill 1357 prohibits colleges and universities from requiring the affirmation of diversity statements or political loyalty tests as a condition of admission, employment, or contracting with the institution.

Idaho’s public colleges and universities are government entities that deal in the business of ideas. Screening candidates for admission or employment that tips the scales in favor of some ideas the government deems worthy of dissemination and promotion is uncalled for. It thwarts academic freedom and dilutes the pool of diverse ideas and perspectives.

Banning political loyalty tests preserves the goal of institutions being a place where scholars and students can entertain and debate a wide range of ideas in the pursuit of knowledge.


Does the bill increase transparency or accountability in public education institutions? (+) Conversely, does the bill decrease transparency and accountability in public education institutions? (-)

This legislation adds a layer of accountability unseen in previous iterations of legislation designed to abolish DEI bureaucracies. It creates a private cause of action for individuals, and it also provides enforcement authority to the Office of the Attorney General. Any student, alumnus, faculty, or staff member may have standing in a suit against an institution of higher education for violation of this act.


Does the bill reinforce the idea of equal treatment under the law, merit, individual responsibility, personal agency, and expectations of academic excellence? (+) Conversely, does the bill allow for any type of discrimination against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group for any purpose on the basis of race, sex, color, economic class, ethnicity, national origin, legacy status, or other identity group? (-)

DEI bureaucracies — by their very nature — discriminate based on a person’s race, ethnicity, sex, creed, color, religion, or economic class. This violates the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which guarantees the right to equal protection under the law for all.

Prohibiting colleges and universities from establishing and operating these discriminatory institutions preserves this constitutional right for Idahoans.


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