North Dakota governor Doug Burgum signed into law on Monday a “specified concepts” bill banning educational institutions from asking students or prospective employees about their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. It also prevents public higher education institutions from requiring noncredit diversity training of any students or employees.
Of the dozens of anti-DEI bills currently under discussion by state legislatures, North Dakota’s is the first to be signed into law. It will go into effect Aug. 1.
Among the 16 concepts that the law deems off-limits are those that engage in “race or sex scapegoating,” which the bill describes as “assigning fault, blame, or bias” to a race or sex because of that race or sex; those that describe the U.S. as “irredeemably racist or sexist”; and those that “promote division between, or resentment of” other groups of people.
The law also prohibits institutions from “penalizing” employees or students for openly questioning or disagreeing with these concepts. In addition, it requires any college or university employee whose “primary duties” include promoting diversity to also “strengthen and increase intellectual diversity” at their institution.
Originally called the divisive concepts bill in the North Dakota House version, the name was changed to “specified concepts” upon passage by the Senate in February. The law was enacted with little fanfare; no press release accompanied its signing, and despite being the first of many similar bills to become law in the U.S., it has received very little media coverage.