Sherry Sylvester

Abbott Versus DEI: Not on Texas Campuses

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office just sent out a memo to Texas colleges, universities and state agencies reminding them that they must follow civil rights laws and ensure that all hiring decisions are based solely on merit.

Abbott’s Chief of Staff, Gardner Pate, explains in the memo that “…the innocuous sounding notion of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has been manipulated to push policies that expressly favor some demographic groups to the detriment of others.”

Last month, the National Association of Scholars released an extensive report on DEI at the University of Texas revealing how employment of faculty and staff there is now linked to left-wing political goals. Shortly after that, a freedom of information report obtained by Do No Harm revealed that Texas A&M Medical School had, among other things, removed photographs of white male graduates to further its DEI goals. And this week the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed detailing the way DEI is used at Texas Tech to screen out job applicants who do not accept DEI dogma.

Immediately, the Texas media launched a disinformation campaign.

The Texas Tribune screamed:  Governor Greg Abbott tells state agencies to stop considering diversity in hiring

Most of the state’s electronic media regurgitated the Texas Tribune report as if it were fact, reporting that DEI is about eliminating discrimination and ensuring fair treatment.

The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express news reported that Abbott was going after diversity hiring programs while the Dallas Morning News digital headline proclaimed: Abbott declares it illegal to consider diversity in employment. Their editorial board fired off an odd piece the next day—Governor Abbott’s Big DEI Mistake insisting that, although Abbott is right about ideological litmus tests, what is going on at Texas institutions of higher education is surely “well-intentioned” because hiring diverse employees is a good thing.

They are wrong. DEI is not “well-intentioned,” and it is not about diversity hiring or fair treatment.  DEI is about dictating how people think. The job candidate evaluations at Texas Tech revealed that applicants were downgraded for using the wrong pronoun or saying they respected and treated all students the same—which is not allowed. Another applicant was chastised for not knowing the difference between equity and equality.

Clearly, the Texas media is also confused about the difference between equality and Equity. Equality is the belief that everyone must have access to life, liberty, education, jobs and the tools to reach for the American dream. The civil rights laws of the 1960s referred to in the memo from Gov. Abbott’s office are built on the principle of equality. Title IX laws, which give women equal access to higher education, are also about equality.

Equity calls for equal outcomes—we must all end up at the same place. According to the principles of DEI, the fact that I played basketball in high school but never really had a shot at the NBA means there’s equality in sports, but not equity. DEI disdains equality. It is all about equity.

Diversity is a word that DEI also distorts. Diversity has always been used to define a community whose members have a broad range of backgrounds, like Texas, where 29 million people speak 160 languages, English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Tagalog being the most common. Our state was founded and continues to be built by a very diverse population of Hispanics, Anglos, African Americans, Native Americans, Germans, Central Americans and others who flock daily to our state. Texas reflects all those voices.

But diversity, as it is taught in Texas colleges and universities, means dividing everyone into groups of either oppressors or victims as defined by critical race theory. Oppressors are people who have benefited from the racism and white supremacy that DEI proponents believe is the foundation for America. Victims are those who are suffering from the white supremacy that in their view, still drives every aspect of our cultural, political and economic lives.

In addition to critical race theory, DEI advocates also espouse “gender theory,” insisting that gender is not binary and the fact that children are “assigned a gender at birth” is an arbitrary action perpetuated by the white patriarchy. Every child, they insist, should be allowed to choose their own gender.

Wrap this all up with disinformation about “inclusion” and you can see why Governor Abbott’s memo was necessary. Texas colleges and universities are giving preferential hiring treatment (inclusion) to those who believe our country is driven by racism, white supremacy and a binary gender patriarchy. Everyone else, especially those who espouse principles like merit, initiative, color-blindness and equality fall into the “white supremacist” category. They are excluded.

DEI also suppresses dissent and free speech, something the media usually cares about, but in this case, clearly not. Fifty-seven percent of Texas college students report that they censor themselves when talking to other students, professors or administrators because they are fearful of reprisal. Ironically, at the same time, over 70% of Texas college students oppose allowing a critic of Black Lives Matter to speak on their campus because DEI teaches intolerance of views that don’t comply with the dogma.

This week Senate Finance Committee Chair, Joan Huffman, R-Houston warned university officials that DEI will not be tolerated at Texas colleges and universities.  She warned the taxpayer-funded institutions that the state’s budget appropriators are watching.

Texans oppose both DEI and CRT and will support Gov. Abbott and the Texas Legislature continuing to move forward to get rid of it in Texas. They have learned to ignore the disinformation coming from the Texas media.