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Texas DEI Ban Ripples: UT Austin Layoffs Unveiled

In response to Texas’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) ban, the University of Texas at Austin has initiated significant staff layoffs, announced in a message to the UT campus by President Jay Hartzell.

“I recognize that strong feelings have surrounded SB 17 from the beginning and will shape many Longhorns’ perceptions of these measures. It is important that we respect the perspectives and experiences of our fellow Longhorns as the changes we are announcing today take effect. It is also important that this continues to be a welcoming, supportive community for all,” Hartzell said. 

The message also announced the closure of the campus and community engagement division, a move perceived to predominantly affect former DEI positions. While Hartzell didn’t explicitly mention layoffs, the decision aims to “streamline student-facing” programs.

The university has yet to confirm the exact number of job losses resulting from the division’s closure. However, the Texas Conference of the American Association of University Professors and the Texas NAACP chapter estimate that approximately 60 individuals were notified of their job terminations.

This development follows a letter from Sen. Brandon Creighton to colleges across Texas, cautioning against mere name changes of roles or programs without ceasing DEI efforts.

“[The ban is] the most robust DEI prohibition in the nation,” Creighton wrote, “The Texas State Legislature, along with the people of Texas, anticipate that each institution will undertake sincere efforts to align with the bill’s provisions, ensuring a merit-based environment where every student, faculty and staff member can strive for and achieve personal excellence.”

Sen. Creighton also cautioned institutions to implement SB17 adequately, and not only “merely rename their offices or employee titles.”

“This letter should serve as a notice that this practice is unacceptable – and also a reminder that SB17 encompasses stringent enforcement provisions, including the potential freezing of university funding and legal ramifications for non-compliance,” Creighton wrote. 

Critics of DEI argue that it prioritizes race over merit and imposes ideological conformity on students. The Texas ban on DEI, also known as SB 17, came into effect on January 1st, prompting UT and other universities to rename or close down related centers and programs.

Staff
Staff
Written by RA News staff.

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