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Conservative academics and politicians started organizing a campaign in 2022 to undermine efforts to increase racial diversity in American universities and turn public opinion against these initiatives by convincing policymakers that the efforts are corrupting higher education, according to a New York Times investigation.

The report, published Sunday, said the plan was hatched in Texas and led by a former aide to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and it initially targeted well-known institutions such as Texas A&M University and researched which offices and employees should be expunged.

“A well-connected alumnus conveyed their findings to the A&M chancellor; the former Patrick aide cited them before a State Senate committee. The campaign quickly yielded results: In May, Texas approved legislation banishing all such programs from public institutions of higher learning,” the article said.

The reporting was based on thousands of documents obtained by the Times and “cast light on the playbook and the thinking underpinning one nexus of the anti-D.E.I. movement—the activists and intellectuals who helped shape Texas’ new law, along with measures in at least three other states,” the article said. 

The conservatives’ efforts involved “gathering strength from a backlash against Black Lives Matter, and fueled by criticism that doctrines such as critical race theory had made colleges engines of progressive indoctrination, the eradication of D.E.I. programs has become both a cause and a message suffusing the American right,” the article said. “In 2023, more than 20 states considered or approved new laws taking aim at D.E.I., even as polling has shown that diversity initiatives remain popular.”