- The University of Texas at Austin increased its commitment to implementing social justice policies following demands from student activists in 2016, according to a new National Association of Scholars (NAS) report.
- The university has since implemented diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) into its courses and hold DEI-based trainings and workshops.
- “We were looking to see how the university had advanced some of its earlier plans,” Chance Layton, NAS director of communications, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The University of Texas at Austin (UT) upped its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) following calls from student activists in 2016 for more social justice policies, according to a Jan. 20 report by National Association of Scholars (NAS) research fellow John Sailer.
The changes came after students, identified as “representatives of the Black community,” penned a 2016 letter to the administration demanding the university implement policies in the name of social justice, according to the report. UT reportedly responded by implementing multiple DEI-focused courses, training, committees and staff members. (RELATED: Major University Pays More Than $18 Million To Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Staff)
“While at first institutions kind of ignored [students] outright, once students started doing sit-ins, taking over administrative offices, that began a change. The [public relations] also began to change them, a lot of the corporate world media has come out and directly supports the social justice narrative that a lot of these students thought that they were advancing,” Chance Layton, NAS director of communications, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
He said after some of the demands made by students were considered, it “snowballed… and now you have huge, massive departments that do so much more than those demands asked for.”
UT unveiled three DEI plans between 2018 and 2020, including the “University Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan,” “Strategic Plan for Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity” and “You Belong Here,” according to the report. The reports resulted in the appointment of a diversity officer to “every college, school and unit,” DEI committees and publicly announced commitments by various departments to focus on DEI.
UT also inflicted progressive ideology onto faculty and students through trainings on Critical Race Theory (CRT), implicit biases, microaggressions, systemic racism and anti-racism, the report read. Mandatory first year seminars discussed diversity and inclusion, workshops revolved around CRT and biases and “anti-racist” speakers were brought to campus, according to the DEI plans.
“We were looking to see how the university had advanced some of its earlier plans. A lot of times administrators make big promises and those slowly get bogged down,” Layton explained. “It was kind of curious in this case to see the opposite thing happen. If anything, it got stronger as the university went to enact their plans and their policies, which was somewhat surprising to us.”
The plans also highlighted recommended reading which included “How To Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi and “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo.
NEW: In 2016, student activists at UT Austin called for sweeping changes to university policy in the name of social justice.
Specifically, they wanted a “comprehensive restructuring of academic policies.”
My latest for @NAS_org shows exactly how UT Austin has obliged.
— John Sailer (@JohnDSailer) January 24, 2023
“UT Austin’s DEI programming espouses a fixation on race and narrow demographic identity as paramount features of life, and it embraces the watchwords of identity politics—microaggression, intersectionality, unconscious bias, and so on,” the report read.
UT courses became more ingrained in promoting DEI, such as through “Equity in STEM,” and the university mandated more training for faculty, according to the report. The School of Information had a “mandatory training in anti-racist pedagogy and cultural competency for all TAs and faculty,” the McCombs School of Business trained faculty about recognizing biases and the Cockrell School of Engineering trained faculty “about biases, including racism and sexism.”
Faculty had to highlight achievements in advancing DEI to receive a promotion or be awarded tenure, the report reads. Faculty must “demonstrate an enthusiastic and sustained commitment to DEI in order to maintain good standing.”
“From the highest level of administration to the university’s many colleges and schools, a new regime of DEI policies has come into being,” the report concluded. “These policies espouse a specific set of contentious political views, dictate a new curriculum, and embed the principles of DEI into the fabric of the university.”
NAS hopes that the Texas legislature will read the report to “push for some reform,” Layton told the DCNF.
“The students of Texas should be taught by an institution that reflects the values of their state,” he said. “We hope that they take a good, hard look at the University of Texas Austin.”
UT did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.