ACE, Higher Education Groups Ask White House to Withdraw Executive Order Restricting Diversity Training and Federal Grants
October 09, 2020

​​​ACE sent a letter yesterday on behalf of more than 50 other higher education associations to the White House asking President Trump to withdraw his recent executive order titled “Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping,” which has caused enormous confusion on college campuses and other workplaces.

The order applies to federal contractors and grantees, including colleges and universities. It will prohibit contractors from using concepts the administration specifies as “divisive” forms of race or sex “stereotyping” or “scapegoating” in their workplace training programs. It also instructs federal agencies to identify which grant programs should be subject to the EO and how to apply these restrictions to grantees in those programs.

As the groups explained in the letter, campus diversity and inclusion training programs already align with federal and state anti-discrimination laws, and institutions that are government contractors already comply with federal employment nondiscrimination mandates. The order “is already disrupting the planning and delivery of these programs, creating a chilling effect on the good faith and lawful efforts of campus officials to build and sustain non-discriminatory and non-hostile workplaces and learning communities,” they wrote.

The letter also points out that the order undermines the administration’s own broad anti-regulatory agenda, and appears to conflict directly with the president's executive order on campus free speech. That order, issued in March 2019, claims to “encourage[s] institutions to foster environments that promote open, intellectually engaging, and diverse debate, including through compliance with the First Amendment for public institutions and compliance with stated institutional policies regarding freedom of speech for private institutions.”

The Wall Street Journal noted Wednesday that other organizations and companies, including big tech, also have issued statements protesting the order saying it attacks free speech and undermines workplace equity. The story also reported that the Department of Labor is already making moves to enforce the order, launching a hotline for employees to report their companies for potentially violating it and publishing an FAQ.​