JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – State Auditor Shad White (R-Miss.) said a new report shows how much public universities are spending on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

“I have real concerns about what DEI staff may be teaching or doing at our taxpayer-funded universities,” said White. “For example, during the Trump Administration, President Trump shut down federal government DEI programs because some taught that ‘virtually all White people contribute to racism.’ This kind of language tears us apart, not brings us together.”

According to White, Mississippi’s public universities reported spending $23.4 million on DEI from July of 2019 to June 2023.

There are eight public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University, Delta State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, Mississippi University for University, Mississippi Valley State University, The University of Mississippi, and The University of Southern Mississippi.

White said the self-reported expenditures from the universities reveal a wide-range of spending, including nearly $11 million of state taxpayer funds going to DEI programs.

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) released the following statement about the report.

Campus diversity programs support a broad range of students by helping them find a sense of belonging in the university community which enhances the educational experience for all students and benefits the greater university community. Universities have long offered these programs to support student veterans, students with disabilities, first generation college students, women and minority students, students who have been in foster care, Native American students, and international students.

Campus diversity initiatives include sexual assault awareness and prevention programs, music festivals, study abroad programs, student health and wellness programs, Veterans Day Recognition programs, recruitment and retention of non-Black students at our HBCUs as mandated by the Ayers settlement, and federally funded programs like the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program. They also support affinity groups including religious affiliations, Greek life, student athletes, academic honor societies, and professional and social clubs.

In the auditor’s report, if an employee has any diversity-related responsibilities, 100% of that employee’s salary was included in the analysis, as indicated in a footnote in the executive summary.

Our public universities have diverse student bodies and an obligation to support them. Spending on diversity programs is less than one percent of appropriations received from the state and the system budget. Providing programs to retain students so they can graduate and join the workforce is a worthy investment that strengthens our universities and our state.