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Texas Universities Under Fire: Massive Cuts To DEI Programs Raise Concerns

Texas universities have eliminated hundreds of positions related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts on their campuses as they try to comply with a law that bans DEI programs at the state’s public universities.

Sen. Brandon Creighton, a Conroe Republican who led the charge to curtail DEI programs in the 2023 legislative session, called the university system’s chancellors to the Capitol to assess compliance with the new rules.

At the hearing, University of Texas Chancellor James Milliken said the university has cut 300 positions and more than 600 programs related to DEI across its nine academic and five health campuses. He also said the cuts have saved the university $24 million.

“Ensuring compliance has been a top UT System priority over the last year,” Milliken said.

Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp noted that the DEI ban affected 114 positions, with minimal impact on the College Station campus.

Activists, however, said DEI programs are helpful and build communities.

“Moving DEI offices takes away a safe space and often a lifeline for students and sends a message that they don’t belong,” said Amanda McLaughlin, a transgender woman. “They no longer have a place where they are accepted and find support.”

The DEI ban, enacted by the Legislature in 2023, prohibits programs that provide resources for specific races, ethnicities, or gender identities. As a result, numerous multicultural and LGBTQ centers on campuses have either been restructured or closed.

About one-third of U.S. states have enacted similar bans on DEI. Democrats, on the other hand, have supported DEI efforts in at least 20 states.

According to the Dallas-Morning News, the hearing also addressed recent pro-Palestinian protests, with students and some members of the Jewish community raising concerns about anti-Semitism and threats made during the demonstrations. The Anti-Defamation League echoed those concerns, pointing to calls for Israel’s destruction in the protests.

But David Albert, a Jewish government professor at UT, said that the word antisemitism is being used to demonize peaceful protests against the war in Gaza.

“Antisemitism is simply hatred of Jews, not criticism of Israel,” Albert testified. “Criticism of the actions of the state of Israel is not antisemitic. Criticism of the Netanyahu government is not antisemitic. Criticism of the Israeli occupation or the Gaza operation are not antisemitic.”

Staff
Staff
Written by RA News staff.

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