Colleges Extend Enrollment, Other Services to Students Impacted by Anti-DEI Laws

Rice University, Colorado College, and Hampshire College are among the institutions reacting to anti-DEI laws.
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Matthew Arrojas is a news reporter at BestColleges covering higher education issues and policy. He previously worked as the hospitality and tourism news reporter at the South Florida Business Journal. He also covered higher education policy issues as...
Published on September 28, 2023
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  • Over the past three years, many states have passed anti-DEI laws impacting higher education.
  • As a result, many DEI offices and LGBTQ+ resource centers have vanished from colleges and universities.
  • Private institutions and schools in other states have responded by extending services to students impacted by the changes.
  • Some institutions have even offered a path to enrollment for students looking to leave their current institution.

A handful of institutions have responded to new laws limiting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs by offering transfers and other services to those impacted by the legislation.

Anti-DEI laws have become popular in many states with conservative-leaning leaders that call DEI programs a form of "indoctrination" of college students. As a result, colleges and universities have cut their DEI offices, and some resource centers — including LGBTQ+ resource centers — disbanded in recent months.

The quick changes have left many feeling stuck in an institution very different from what they initially enrolled in.

Other schools are now offering a way out.

Rice University, Colorado College, and Hampshire College are among the colleges and universities that have extended services to those impacted by anti-DEI laws in recent years.

Transfer Pathways Out of Anti-DEI States

Some colleges and universities eased transfer pathways for students who want to leave states and institutions with anti-DEI values.

Colorado College recently launched the Healing and Affirming Village and Empowerment Network (HAVEN) initiative. HAVEN makes it easier for students from Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Tennessee, and North Dakota to transfer to Colorado College over the next two academic years.

The private liberal arts college in Colorado Springs said it would remove transfer barriers for these students by offering full financial aid consideration when transferring. Additionally, the institution will provide full credit for transferable coursework.

Colorado College also promised to prioritize counseling and identity-affirming programming for students transferring from anti-DEI states.

"HAVENis a response to an immediate need for those in harm's way and I am proud that [Colorado College] is acting out our commitment to antiracism in such a meaningful manner," Rosalie Rodriguez, associate vice president of Institutional Equity and Belonging, said in a statement.

Hampshire College revealed a more targeted transfer program in March.

This Massachusetts institution promised to match tuition for all New College of Florida students. The transfer application deadline passed on Aug. 1, but all students who applied before then could transfer to Hampshire College and retain all credits without seeing any tuition increases, even for out-of-state students.

New College of Florida underwent a conservative transformation at the start of 2023.

Opening Programs to All Students

A recently enacted Texas law forces public colleges and universities to close their DEI and related offices.

The law does not, however, impact private universities.

Rice University, a private institution in Houston, announced that Rice PRIDE will extend its services to all students at the University of Houston, a nearby public university. Student resource groups tend to only apply to students enrolled in that institution. But Rice felt it was important for LGBTQ+ students to retain access to essential resources and be able to attend Rice PRIDE events.

Rice PRIDE will also be open to students at other public institutions in the area.

"The main goal is to create a community for students at Rice University and beyond," Cole Holladay, co-president of Rice PRIDE, previously told BestColleges.

However, thus far, the University of Houston is the only institution that has cut DEI resources. The Texas law banning these programs goes into effect Jan. 1, 2024.

For-Credit Offerings From Out-of-State Colleges

Students at New College of Florida will soon be able to earn credits from Bard College in New York.

New College alumni launched Alt New College in September. To start, the online-only program will offer seminars and lectures. However, a representative from Alt New College told BestColleges that it plans to begin offering for-credit courses through Bard College in the spring 2024 semester.

These credits will be transferable, the representative said.