Sherry Sylvester

A Good Time to ‘Pause’ DEI at UT

The University of Texas Board of Regents just made a very good decision to “pause any new DEI policies on our campuses.” Texas Tech, the University of Houston and Texas A&M also say they are working to end DEI on their campuses.  In making the announcement, University of Texas Board of Regents Chairman Kevin Eltife also said he has asked for a report on current DEI policies across all campuses.

DEI, the acronym for the so-called diversity, equity and inclusion policies, has become a driving force on many Texas campuses, including UT, through a vast administrative network that controls hiring and promotions. It also employs aggressive strategies that infuse DEI into curriculum.

DEI’s advocates relentlessly insist that their goal is minority recruitment or fair treatment, but that is just the cover story. As the National Association Scholars noted in a report on UT earlier this year, “a large bureaucracy devoted to advancing the vague goals of DEI” is evident throughout the university.

Eltife clearly states the difference, noting that UT welcomes “welcomes, celebrates and strives for diversity on our campuses in our student and faculty population…”

But he notes DEI has become something else:

“I also think it’s fair to say that in recent times, certain DEI efforts have strayed from the original intent to now imposing requirements and actions that, rightfully so, has raised the concerns of our policymakers about those efforts on campuses across our entire state.”

To understand the difference between ensuring that Texas college campuses are comprised of students and staff that reflect the broad diversity of our state and the pernicious goals DEI, it is important to examine exactly what the DEI ideology is and how it operates in the academic space.

DEI is rooted in critical race theory (CRT) and the new gender ideologies. Over the last couple decades, DEI has morphed both theories beyond being just left-wing ideas into structured operating systems.

The template for the fall schedule at UT’s McCombs School of Business demonstrates the result. It includes a content warning section that some of the business courses may be offensive or result in curriculum induced trauma. It is not clear exactly what kind of “trauma” could result from Econ 101, but thanks to DEI, UT is standing by and prepared.

The McCombs Business School template also includes a ridiculous “land acknowledgement” to be read before every class and event. It goes like this:

“We acknowledge that we are meeting on the Idigenous [sic] lands of Turtle Island, the ancestral name for what is now North America.” They must also affirm: “I would like to acknowledge that Alabama-Coushatta, Caddo, Carrizo/Comecrudo, Coahuiltecan, Comanche, Kickapoo, Lipan Apache, Tonkawa, Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo and all the American and Indigenous Peoples who have been or have become a part of these lands and territories of Texas.”

Besides being a guilt inducing virtue signal, suggesting that we are somehow on stolen land, this statement is, like the 1619 Project, simply bad history. .Among other things, this fails to note the fact that the Spanish were actually in Texas before several of these tribes so perhaps Carlos III de Bourbon, His Most Catholic Majesty should also be on this list.

Most professors don’t complain about these things because they are required to provide a “diversity statement” before they can even be considered for a job at UT. The statement must include proof of adherence to the ideology of DEI. Candidates are excluded if they use words like merit, color-blind or even equality.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott pointed out recently that this is against the law. His office reminded universities and state agencies that hiring cannot be based on factors other than merit. Civil rights laws protect everyone from being discriminated against because of their race, ethnicity or, in the case of DEI, because of what they believe.

Eltife and the Board of Regents should carefully read the DEI reports he gets back from faculty and staff at UT. They must separate genuine efforts to increase minority recruitment from the ideological agenda of maintaining the DEI infrastructure in campus climate and curriculum. They should also ask other groups to send them reports—traditional faculty and students who want an atmosphere of open inquiry and learning who are often shut out by UT’s DEI regime.

The regents also need to hear what they have to say.