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Conservative researchers and activists see a window of opportunity in their long-running war on diversity, equity and inclusion programs and policies.

At a Washington, D.C., event Wednesday called “Seizing the Moment to Defeat DEI,” hosted by the Heritage Foundation, panelists said several factors—the upcoming presidential election, a push at the state level to end DEI programs at colleges and universities and Americans’ increasing skepticism of higher education—present a chance to more firmly uproot the policies that they say have taken hold in higher education as well as the military, the media and corporate America.

During the event’s panel discussion about DEI policies in higher education, speakers outlined how, in their opinion, DEI has created problems at law and medical schools as well as in teacher preparation programs. They called for changes in accreditation and federal policy. Panelists also urged students and faculty to speak up and resist DEI policies such as requirements to submit a diversity statement.

“It’s a see something, say something moment,” said Kristina Rasmussen, executive director of Do No Harm, a nonprofit that aims to eliminate critical race theory and DEI in medical schools.

Several of the speakers pointed to the rise in campus antisemitism following the start of the Israel-Hamas war as proof that DEI policies and staff members aren’t working. Republicans in Congress, among others, have blamed DEI policies for antisemitism on campuses.

“The past five months laid bare the rot at the heart of academia,” said Nicole Neily, president and founder of Parents Defending Education, a national organization that fights what it considers liberal indoctrination in the classroom. “It’s time to acknowledge that we bought a lemon and time to cut off these programs entirely.”

Jay P. Greene, senior research fellow at Heritage’s Center for Education Policy, said a key way to force changes on college campuses is to hit their pocketbooks and get rid of administrators who support DEI policies. He touted the December House hearing on campus antisemitism that led to the resignation of two college presidents.

“We’re taking heads and taking money, and it’s producing success,” Greene said.