President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Sept. 22, 2020 entitled “Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotypes.” This order addresses multicultural education, diversity and inclusion training in organizations, including schools. It would go into effect Nov. 16 in the event that Trump is re-elected.
The purpose of the order is to “promote economy and efficiency in Federal contracting, to promote unity in the Federal workforce, and to combat offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating.” This is in response to projects like the 1619 project, an educational initiative that analyzes the inequities faced by African Americans in United States history. Trump has referred to this kind of education as “unpatriotic” and believes that American history should be taught by focusing on our country’s history of freedom, rather than its history of oppression.
Over a hundred businesses and nonprofit groups expressed concern about this order in a letter to the administration. Many feel as though this order will cause confusion and could potentially lead to a more dangerous workplace environment. Race and sex based sensitivity training is a crucial part to the safety and balance of a workspace, and this order would force organizations to choose between funding and diversity-based resources.
This raises a lot of concerns about what this means for education of all levels, including institutions like Springfield College. It brings into question where the line is drawn between history and “propaganda.”
It’s unclear exactly which programs at Springfield College could be affected by this order. Academically, Springfield College offers classes like Foundations of Multicultural Education, Racial and Ethnic Relations, Women and Society, and many others that explore how people of different identities are affected by systems in our country. Given the content of these courses, they may be in jeopardy if this order becomes law.
The Office of Multicultural Affairs could also be impacted. This office is part of the Division of Inclusion and Community Engagement, and offers programming that relates to cultural competency and inclusivity. Educational resources that discuss the impact of sexism, racism, etc. on our country may violate the details of the order.
While Springfield College is a private institution, it can still receive federal funding. Like many other private colleges/universities, Springfield has made strides towards progressive educational initiatives. Ultimately, a second term from President Trump could cause changes to these resources related to diversity and inclusion on campus, although the specific implications of this executive order remain unclear.
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