On February 22, the University of Texas placed a temporary moratorium on new diversity, equity and inclusion programs, and launched a review of existing DEI programs.
The University of Texas system, which operates 13 university campuses and medical centers across Texas, made the announcement after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office earlier this month ordered state agencies to stop using DEI policies in hiring, calling it employment discrimination that violates federal and state employment laws.
For years, Abbott turned a blind eye to the spread of DEI policies, appointing university regents who did nothing to halt the spread. But recently, he has bowed to pressure from the conservative base to do something about them, as DEI policies are increasingly used as ideological litmus tests to avoid hiring Republicans and moderate Democrats as college professors.
In a statement Wednesday, UT Systems’ Board of Regents Chairman Kevin Eltife said that while university leaders prize the idea of diversity on campus, “DEI efforts have strayed away from the original intent to now imposing requirements and actions that rightfully so has raised the concerns of our policymakers.”
Legislation recently proposed in the Texas legislature would forbid diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at all public universities in Texas. “Given the clear legislative focus, we have paused any new DEI policies on our campuses and have asked for a report on current policies across our campuses,” Eltife said.
In February, Texas Tech University announced it would end its biology department’s requirement that applicants be committed to diversity, equity and inclusion to be hired, after media coverage exposed the practice.
The Texas Tribune reported Wednesday that Texas A&M also recently “changed its hiring policies. According to an email obtained by The Texas Tribune, the vice president of faculty affairs told college deans late last week that they should consider only a cover letter, resume, personal statement and professional references in hiring.”
Texas A&M University is being sued for racial discrimination in a lawsuit that accuses the public institution of creating a program in which scholars of color will be given preferential hiring treatment over white and Asian males.
A white male student has also sued six Texas medical schools that rejected him for admissions but admitted nonwhites and women with much lower standardized test scores.
Texas Republican Rep. Carl Tepper, sponsor of state legislation seeking to ban DEI in Texas higher ed, says DEI programs have proven to be useless at expanding access to education, and are also extremely costly. “The offices of DEI are really just radical partisan activist offices on college campuses. And they’re expensive. The cost of college has been skyrocketing, and parents of state university students don’t want their money spent on political indoctrination or party politics or reverse-racism. They want their kids to graduate with skills for a better future.”
KVUE Texas reports that Eltife said the board will cooperate with legislation addressing DEI policies. “We will await any action from the Legislature for implementation by the University of Texas System at the appropriate time and, if needed, the board may consider a uniform DEI policy for the entire UT system,” Eltife said.