Diversity training in jeopardy at U of M due to President Trump’s executive order

The University of Memphis' diversity training is in jeopardy after President Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13950 “Combatting Race and Sex Stereotyping.”

The executive order states:

Today, however, many people are pushing a different vision of America that is grounded in hierarchies based on collective social and political identities rather than in the inherent and equal dignity of every person as an individual. This ideology is rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country; that some people, simply on account of their race or sex, are oppressors; and that racial and sexual identities are more important than our common status as human beings and Americans.

—  Executive Order 13950

The executive order said that any training conducted that "promotes race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating is prohibited.

President Trump signed the executive order on Sept. 22.

U of M sent a letter to its faculty and staff regarding any diversity training that was scheduled this semester, it said:

Dear UofM Faculty and Staff:

On Sept. 22, President Trump signed Executive Order 13950 “Combatting Race and Sex Stereotyping” (EO) which applies to the University of Memphis as a federal contractor and federal grant recipient. Non-compliance with the EO could result in the loss of federal funding.

Prohibited Conduct

The EO prohibits the University from conducting training for employees that “promotes race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating.” These concepts are defined in the EO as:

  • “Race or sex stereotyping” means ascribing character traits, values, moral and ethical codes, privileges, status, or beliefs to a race or sex or to an individual because of his or her race or sex.
  • “Race or sex scapegoating” means assigning fault, blame or bias to a race or sex, or to members of a race or sex because of their race or sex. It similarly encompasses any claim that, consciously or unconsciously, and by virtue of his or her race or sex, members of any race are inherently racist or are inherently inclined to oppress others, or that members of a sex are inherently sexist or inclined to oppress others.

The EO does not place any limitations or restrictions on the discussion of these concepts as part of academic instruction as long as it is done “in an objective manner and without endorsement.” The EO also does not pose a blanket prohibition on equity, diversity, inclusion or unconscious bias training for employees.

Recommendations

OIE recommends that any equity, diversity, inclusion, unconscious bias or multi-cultural sensitivity training scheduled for employees during the fall semester be suspended. However, if your unit or department has an existing training for this semester that cannot be rescheduled, please submit your training materials to OIE for review to ensure compliance with the EO. OIE will provide updates as they become available but if you have any questions please contact us at oie@memphis.edu.