Pushing out Claudine Gay as president of Harvard may be the biggest academic rejection in American history since Cotton Mather was passed over for the same job in 1702 because of his participation in the Salem Witch Trials. That said, many people do not realize that Gay is still at Harvard as a professor earning $900,000 annually, even though she has not recanted her anti-Semitic statements or apologized to the people she plagiarized. Instead, she essentially called those who criticized her a bunch of racists.
In Texas, the infamous congressional hearing occurred just as Texas academic institutions were rolling out their plans for compliance with Senate Bill 17, the anti-DEI bill that passed in the 2023 Legislative Session and went into effect on January 1.
UT Regent Kevin Eltife made a heroic statement to usher in the end of “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” programs at the University of Texas at Austin:
“We really want to make something crystal clear, whether you like the policy or whether you like this law or any other law, the University of Texas System is going to respect the process, and we’re going to respect the law. We’re not going to look for loopholes. We’re not going to look for workarounds. We’re going to implement the law as passed.”
“As Texas A&M University prepares to comply with Texas Senate Bill 17 regarding diversity, equity and inclusion programs at public universities, staff members previously supporting the Office for Diversity have been reassigned, and this office is closed. The university is transitioning S.B. 17-compliant programs and resources previously offered by the Office for Diversity to other areas of the university and discontinuing programs that are not compliant.”
Here’s how the anti-DEI ban is working on Texas campuses so far: The San Antonio Express-News reported that a campus-wide working group sifted through about 300 “DEI programming items” at the University of Texas at San Antonio and decided that only 10% of the items would be stopped. The president of UTSA did say that the school would not repurpose its Office of Inclusive Excellence.
“300 DEI programming items” gives us an idea of the scope of DEI on that campus. And what exactly is “Inclusive Excellence?” Does that mean everybody gets an “A” like they do at Harvard?
Meaningless naming designed to obscure the true ideology is a critical component of the DEI playbook. On Texas campuses, word salad office names and titles are being exchanged for different word salad office names and titles.
The University of Texas at Austin’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement will now become the Division of Campus and Community Engagement.
The Multicultural Center and Pride Alliance at the University of North Texas will now become the Center for Belonging and Engagement. The president of the University of Texas at Dallas admitted that the programs will continue under a different name.
Everyone knew the Pride Center at College Station wasn’t for most A&M students, so now they are going to call it the Student Life Center.
It’s not clear what the former “Pride Center” did at A&M, but at the University of North Texas, some are lamenting that without the Pride Center there will be no place for students to go to get “‘binders’ which women use to smash their breasts so they look like men. According to one staffer, other ‘gender affirming supplies’ are also likely to disappear along with designated spaces for queer students and students of color.”
“Designated spaces for students of color?” Sounds a lot like the back of the bus.
The five employees who worked at the LGBTQA Resource Center and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Houston will now be working for the Center for Student Advocacy and Community.
Texas Tech University and simply closed their DEI offices to comply with Senate Bill 17. On behalf of the conservative majority of Texas, who overwhelmingly oppose the ideology of DEI and who elected the legislators who passed the anti-DEI legislation, we thank you.
We may not quickly know what Texas academic institutions are doing with the hundreds of DEI employees, DEI focused committees and so-called “DEI programming items” that have become embedded within the universities because many have not reported their deployment of DEI personnel and programs. A professor at Texas A&M School of Nursing recently characterized requests for public information from the American Accountability Foundation as “harassment.”
Other campuses are in hysterics over SB 17. UT professors and administrators are telling the Austin American Statesman that the anti-DEI legislation has resulted in profound “confusion and despair” and morale is at an all-time low. Faculty members say they are exhausted.
And, of course, Pavitra Kumar, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, actually went on the record to say that no one is talking to students to ask what they would feel “safe and comfortable with.”
Kumar seems blithely unaware that when college students across the country hit the streets to support the terrorists who attacked Israel on Oct. 7, including at the University of Texas, nobody asked the Jewish students what they’d feel “safe and comfortable with.”
DEI programs at Texas universities employ hundreds of people and cost millions of dollars. The Texas Legislature passed an anti-DEI ban because those programs foment hate and division, and have had no impact in attracting larger numbers of minority and marginalized students or improving their academic outcomes.
Like Claudine Gay at Harvard, most of those who promulgated the divisive DEI ideology on Texas campuses are still there. There is no indication that any Texas academic institution has fired anyone who formally held a DEI title. Like Gay, those who are committed to dividing students into either oppressors or oppressed based on their identity group still have their jobs. They have simply been moved around or given new titles.
The state of Texas put $43 billion into higher education in the last legislative session and Senate Bill 17 has only been in effect for a couple weeks. However, it is clear that it will take a much more comprehensive and serious effort to eradicate DEI from our academic institutions and return to the principles of real academic excellence – merit, vigilance, open inquiry, free speech and respect for people as individuals – not identity groups.