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A man in a suit stands at a podium flanked by supporters and an American flag. A sign on the front of the podium says "Defunding discrimination."

Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt at a press conference Wednesday announcing his executive order to curb DEI spending.

Oklahoma governor’s office

Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt signed an executive order Wednesday mandating reviews and widespread cuts to diversity, equity and inclusion offices and programming at public universities in the state.

“In Oklahoma, we’re going to encourage equal opportunity, rather than promising equal outcomes,” Stitt said in a statement. “We’re taking politics out of education and focusing on preparing students for the workforce.”

The order states that “executive state agencies shall not utilize state funds, property or resources to grant or support diversity, equity, and inclusion positions, departments, activities, procedures, or programs.” In order to comply, public institutions are ordered to review spending on all DEI “positions, departments, activities, procedures and programs” and to “eliminate and dismiss all non-critical personnel.”

Colleges and universities must do so by May 31, at which point they’ll be required to submit a certificate of compliance and a report to the governor and speakers of the state House and Senate—all of whom are Republicans.

Officials at the University of Oklahoma, one of the state’s public flagships, issued a strong rebuke of the order, saying in a statement they were “disappointed” in Stitt’s decision.

“[Our] positive impact to the state would not be possible without the underlying values that serve as a constant north star for our university: access and opportunity for all of those with the talent and work ethic to succeed; being a place of belonging for all who attend; dedication to free speech and inquiry; and civility in our treatment of each other,” the statement read. “These principles transcend political ideology, and in them, we are unwavering.”

Oklahoma joins a small but growing list of red states taking executive or legislative action against DEI in higher ed. Florida, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas have all passed anti-DEI legislation, and others, such as Iowa and North Carolina, have ordered cuts from state system boards. Elsewhere, attacks on DEI have led institutions to pre-emptively dissolve and restructure their DEI offices, as the University of Arkansas did in June.

Stitt’s order was celebrated by Republican lawmakers and others on the right who have taken up the mantle of eliminating what they call woke ideology from higher education—including conservative activist Christopher Rufo, a New College of Florida trustee.

“WINNING,” Rufo tweeted Wednesday. “We’re just getting started.”