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DEI won’t die easily at Texas A&M, but Blaze News report shows there’s still hope

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A recent Blaze News report revealed that an order from the Republican governor, a directive from the university system president, and the assurance of a prohibition law that would take effect in January were not entirely enough to deter Texas A&M University from asking potential employees who indicated their ideological conformity and support for diversity, equity and inclusion. However, the unwanted attention resulting from that same report appears to have had an impact, demonstrating the importance of vigilance and sustained pressure.

Last week, Dr. Scott Yenor, a political science professor at Boise State University, highlighted several apparent examples of departments hiring “based on ideological conformity and racial preferences” at Texas A&M.

While many apparently DEI-coded posts persist, following Yenor’s report, one of the most blatant examples had been noticeably altered.

What is the background?

Governor Greg Abbott notified Texas public institutions in February to stop using DEI hiring practices.

“The innocuous-sounding notion of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has been manipulated to advance policies that expressly favor some demographic groups to the detriment of others,” the memo said.
reportedly written by the governor’s chief of staff, Gardner Pate.

Weeks later, the University of Texas System Board of Regents indicated it had paused all new DEI policies.

President Kevin Eltife, appointed by Abbott,
He suggested that while the system seeks to promote diversity, “certain DEI efforts have deviated from the original intent to now impose requirements and actions that have rightly raised the concerns of our policymakers around those efforts on campuses.” of our entire state.

On March 2, Texas A&M University System President John Sharp ordered university leaders to stop asking job applicants about their commitment to DEI in their applications.
reported the Texas Tribune.

“No university or agency in the A&M System will admit any student or hire any employee based on any factor other than merit,” Sharp wrote.

Texas lawmakers went a step further to ensure there was no confusion over the Lone Star State’s ban on hiring practices based on race and identity.

Senate Bill 17, ratified by Governor Greg Abbott and effective January 1, 2024, prohibits public universities in Texas from establishing an office of diversity, equity and inclusion; use DEI criteria in your hiring practices; and requiring employees or prospective employees to attend DEI training.

The law further requires boards to ensure that each institutional unit does not, among other things, “oblige, require, induce, or request any person to provide a diversity, equity, and inclusion statement or give preferential consideration to any person based on their provision of a diversity, equity and inclusion statement.”

Public higher education institutions will be audited every four years to determine if taxpayer funds were wasted on DEI-related plans. Offending institutions that do not correct the problem within 180 days may become ineligible for formula funding increases and institutional improvements.
reported the American statesman from Austin.

Eltife, an Abbott appointee, said last week: “We really want to make something very clear: Whether you like the policy or this law or any other law, the University of Texas System is going to respect the process, and We are going to respect the law.

“We are not going to look for loopholes. We are not going to look for alternative solutions. We are going to implement the law as it was approved,” Eltife said.

The DEI scheme that will not die

Dr. Yenor noted in his initial report that the Texas A&M Bush School of Government was hiring four tenure-track assistant professors and asked candidates in one position:
archived on Nov. 15, to provide a cover letter “referencing research agenda, past or anticipated contributions to advancing diversity, and faculty interests.”

The day after Yenor’s report, the announcement was modified so that now omit the language “past or planned contributions to the advancement of diversity.”

Blaze News reached out to Texas A&M’s political science department but did not receive a response by deadline.

Yenor told Blaze News that the sudden change reveals that “there was a recognition that the job posting explicitly violated Governor Abbott’s order abolishing DEI statements used for faculty, university or state hiring. It was a direct affront to the governor”. Abbot’s executive order.”

The change “made them comply with the executive order,” at least in this case, Yenor said.

Anna Katherine Miller, director of education policy at the Center for American Education, told Blaze News: “Texas A&M’s recent removal of diversity from its jobs after being reported for defying the governor’s directive shows that “Policies prohibiting DEI will not be easy to enforce on college campuses. Reluctant college presidents, aided and abetted by campus DEI bureaucracies, will do everything they can to evade these orders.”

Yenor similarly suggested that the bans on DEI hiring practices “are pretty easy to evade. Many of the universities have already suggested that they are going to do it. My initial article attempted to show some of the ways they were evading it, but The Bush School ad didn’t even try to evade it. It just violated it.”

One apparent loophole, Yenor noted, is that instead of applicants signing a DEI pledge, “they’re willing to make sure they evaluate that job application in light of the fact that they’ve done diversity work over the years.” their lives”. “.

“In other cases, the university says in one part of the ad, ‘This university represents diversity and inclusion,’ and then asks potential job applicants whether or not they would like to respond to what the university represents. That’s another way to…provide an opportunity for candidates to voluntarily adhere to the ideology,” Yenor continued. “I think the letter of the law can be respected, but in most of these jobs the spirit of the law is violated.”

Sherry Sylvester, distinguished senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, told Blaze News that since the passage of SB 17 it has become clear that “many at the university are committed to finding alternative solutions to loopholes and ways to avoid compliance. “They have said it directly and indirectly. They have talked about the possibility of changing DEI by some other name.”

Despite a name change and possible facelift, Sylvester made it clear what DEI means: division and dehumanization.

“The problem with DEI is that it’s divisive. Their worldview is that America is bad, Texas is bad, and the world is made up of oppressors or oppressed,” Sylvester said. “Your identity is based on immutable characteristics, gender and race, and not on your personal achievements; what you can do; what you have learned to do; what you have overcome. We don’t all start in the same place. “No one thinks we do. we do, but people achieve whatever they want from where they start.

“[DEI] It is anti-individual. … That’s something that’s contrary to our Texas identity. We believe that each individual is unique, each individual finds his or her path, and our job is to make sure that there is nothing that stands in the way of any individual,” Sylvester continued. “DEI does not think in terms of the integrity of the individual. “Think in terms of group identity and people need to understand that.”

Saying goodbye to DEI

In addition to fostering an expectation among students and potential employees that they should be treated as individuals and not based on immutable characteristics and/or group membership, Sylvester suggested that there are other ways to hold the university accountable.

“The legislation has several components for accountability. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is a group that is available to monitor… and report non-compliance. The state auditor will also be monitoring the universities. Each university will have to come and testify before the higher education committees in the [state] House and Senate say they are in compliance,” Sylvester said.

However, even with such checks and balances, Sylvester stressed that good leadership remains a critical part of the solution.

“Texas public universities must ensure that all leaders they hire are fully committed to eliminating DEI from the academic institution,” Sylvester said. “No one should be hired for a leadership position at a Texas public university who supports DEI or has an undecided position on DEI. Texans do not support DEI. The legislature has made it clear that we do not want DEI to be a part of” The infrastructure of our institutions. Therefore, no leader should be hired unless they are fully committed to ensuring their academic institution is DEI-free.”

Yenor emphasized that “the only way to truly stop the DEI revolution on campuses is through university leadership that is willing to stop it and put the money and prestige of the university office behind the vision of education without DEI.” “.

The problem, the Boise professor suggested, is that Gen. Mark Welsh, Texas A&M’s interim president, “has signaled that he is interested in continuing the diversity, equity and inclusion revolution at Texas A&M, fostering and deepening it.” “It seems like doing whatever is necessary to comply with any letter of the law, but violating its spirit.”

General Welsh has long been a
follower of DEI, at least rhetorically. the recently said The Washington Post reportedly did not support SB 17, stating, “I don’t think it’s beneficial to the long term that we’re trying to achieve as a society.”

Yenor indicated that the public has approximately 30 days to comment on whether the Texas A&M Board of Regents should officially appoint Welsh as president of the university, saying, “I think this is one of the only opportunities there will be to reverse some of these nefarious actions at Texas A&M University.”

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