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HomeNewsUniversity of Texas Lays Off Employees Amid State DEI Ban

University of Texas Lays Off Employees Amid State DEI Ban

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The University of Texas at Austin began massive staff layoffs months after a statewide ban on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in public colleges took effect. According to a report, the university laid off dozens of employees who worked in their DEl programs to comply with a new state law.

A picture of people protesting DEI ban
Source: Pinterest

On Tuesday, April 2, 2024, University of Texas President Jay Hartzell announced that the school will dissolve the Division of Campus and Community Engagement and transfer programs and funding to other divisions.

The announcement comes as the university works to comply with a new Texas law that took effect January 1. Senate Bill 17 effectively dissolved DEl institutions at public colleges and universities throughout the state. An insider told the Austin American-Statesman that the university eliminated 60 positions related to DEl work.

The law mandates that all governing boards of public colleges and universities ensure that their institutions prohibit the establishment and maintenance of a DEl office and the issue of “DEl Statements.” In addition, hiring practices and training can no longer use DEl statements.

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ALSO READ: Baltimore Mayor Accuses Racists of Weaponizing DEI Language

“I recognize that strong feelings have surrounded SB 17 from the beginning,” Hartzell wrote about the new law. “And will shape many Longhorns’ perceptions of these measures.” He added, “It is also important that this continues to be a welcoming, supportive community for all.”

The decision is yet another escalation in the mounting attacks on programs that benefit marginalized groups in higher education. In red states like Texas and Florida, anti-DEI laws have shuttered safe spaces for LGBTQ students in the past year.

However, it triggered fears that professors and students would flee to more liberal states. The University of Texas has not confirmed the number of staff positions and employees it will lay off. However, on Tuesday afternoon, sources said at least 60 people lost their jobs. Of the 60, 40 were in the Division of Campus and Community Engagement.

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However, the University of Texas has not commented on the claims. In his message, Hartzell said student-facing jobs would remain throughout the rest of the semester. The University President also said laid-off employees could apply for other positions at the university.

The firings came after state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R., outlined expectations on how universities will comply with state law. Creighton wrote a letter expressing the serious nature of the bill, saying that the measure “mandates a fundamental shift in the operation of our higher education institutions.”

Also, he stated that universities should facilitate a “merit-based environment.” Furthermore, the Senator explained that the Texas Senate Committee on Education will hold a hearing in May. The hearing will probe higher institutions’ chancellors and “general counselors” to show how their universities comply with the law.

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ALSO READ: Survey Shows Minorities Support Death of DEI

Creighton warned that they could lose funding if they fail to comply with the state law. Besides the layoffs, cultural graduations were another casualty of the law’s effect, prompting outrage from some students. The law impacted cultural graduations after Creighton closed down the university’s Multicultural Engagement Center (MEC) in compliance with the state law.

It impacted Black Graduation, Latinx Graduation, and GraduAsian ceremonies. Like the University of Texas, the University of Florida fired all its DEl employees in compliance with state law.

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