With Governor Abbott’s repeal of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) hiring policies in state agencies, public Texas universities are being directly impacted. Public Texas universities, such as the University of Texas at Austin and the University of North Texas, have begun to pause their DEI policies.
DEI policies refer to a hiring process that is intended to support groups that have been historically underrepresented or oppressed. It can also include resources for these groups, such as diversity offices and veterans programs.
Abbott’s ban on DEI policies has directly impacted college campuses and multiple students and professors across Texas public universities have expressed their dissent for the decision. On March 22, 2023, the Univerisity of Texas at Arlington’s Progressive Student Union assembled a protest and multiple professors from the University of Texas at Austin were vocal about their opposition to The Dallas Morning News.
“To me, DEI means seeing each person as their individual and unique being,” Child Development student, Andy Hackett, said. “We all come from many different backgrounds, identities, values and belief systems. DEI efforts help make sure these differences are celebrated and appreciated rather than tearing us apart.”
Hackett said that he was knowledgeable on DEI policies prior to Abbott’s decision and that the decision instilled anger and sadness in him. He identified his LBGTQ+ identity and the positive effects of DEI that he has witnessed in work and school environments as one of the causes for his passion regarding DEI policies.
“If I recall correctly, Abbott along with other conservative politicians have said that DEI gives people unfair advantages and doesn’t give white Christians equal opportunity or something along those lines,” Hackett said. “LGBTQIA+ people, people of color, people of different abilities, and people of any other minority population have constantly been stepped on and looked over in all aspects of life. DEI policies have acted as a safe haven to these vulnerable populations and given them resources to help them succeed in life that may otherwise not have been available.”
Photo courtesy of Andy Hackett
Political Science student Gillian Hayes differs in opinion and expressed that, while she does not necessarily support Abbott’s decision, she understands the intentions of the decision. Hayes explained that she believes the decision should be decided by the individual identity.
“Governor Abbott has been pushing for a lot more conservative value, which I honestly believe because I am Republican,” Hayes said. “I think it is up to the employer what standards of hiring they chose. I am pro-business and every employer should have that option because the government views them as individuals.”
Hayes believes race, ethnic background or gender should not be considered in the hiring process.
“I think the best-qualified candidate should be in that role,” Hayes said. “I will be honest there are some roles that I have been given because I am a woman of indigenous descent that quite honestly I don’t think I should have been in. I wasn’t prepared for those roles and maybe someone else would have been, but since they were trying to meet these qualifications they weren’t hired.”
Photo courtesy of Gillian Hayes
Hayes explained that she sees and understands the need for DEI and that this topic should be handled with care.
Hackett highlights TWU’s resources for students with different backgrounds as a prime example of why TWU should advocate for DEI policies.
“I remember the first time I toured TWU and saw an advertisement for the Drag Show, I knew that I would be accepted here, valued here and appreciated here,” Hackett said. “Things like G-Force, Cultural TALKS, the Frontiers Program and so many other resources on campus allow all students to have the resources and tools they need. Our school is the prime example of how DEI can not only enhance the lives of all students but enrich the entire culture and sense of community on campus. I hope that TWU continues to support and stand up for their students, especially those who are discriminated against or looked down upon by society.”
Karyme Flores can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org