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University of Texas System Board of Regents Suspends DEI Policies, Puts Them Under Scrutiny

The University of Texas System’s board of regents has suspended all new policies promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and asked school leaders to report on their current DEI policies, citing that some practices have “strayed from the original intent,” The Texas Tribune reported.University Of Texas System

“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 around those efforts on campuses across our entire state,” UT System Board Chair Kevin Eltife said, adding that the system does support diversity.

Eltife did not state which particular efforts he considered to be in the wrong. The board might consider a uniform DEI policy for the system, he said.

This move affects all 13 university and health campuses in the system.

Higher education institutions have adopted DEI policies to rectify past biases and wrongs against underreported communities, including people of color, women, students with disabilities, and veterans.

But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott warned public university and state agencies this month that DEI hiring practices violated employment laws and prohibited hiring on factors “other than merit.” But law experts have said the governor’s office mischaracterized legal practices employers use when considering diversity in hiring.

U.S. conservative lawmakers have criticized university departments asking for ‘diversity statements,’ where job candidates write about experience working with diverse student populations and share plans to promote diverse student success. Conservatives have criticized DEI efforts as left-wing ideology and liberal ideas.

In response to Abbott’s memo, Texas A&M University in College Station recently said it changed hiring policies, with the vice president of faculty affairs telling deans to look at only cover letters, resumes, personal statements, and professional references.

“There was not a university-wide requirement for applicants to submit a diversity statement, however, some units did require such statements. There was not consistency in the approach or common understanding of how diversity statements were used in the decision-making process,” Dr. Susan Ballabina, Texas A&M’s chief external affairs officer and senior vice president for academic and strategic collaborations, said in a statement Tuesday. “To ensure adherence to the guidance highlighted in the letter from the Office of the Governor on February 6, 2023, the Texas A&M administration made a decision, after consultation with the System Office of General Counsel, to standardize faculty application requirements.”

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