Layoffs and upheaval at Texas universities spur fear as lawmakers continue DEI crackdown

Layoffs and upheaval at Texas universities spur fear as lawmakers continue DEI crackdown

As administrators scramble to comply with new limits on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, students and faculty worry more tumult is coming.

By Sneha Dey, Texas Tribune

In his first public comments since the University of Texas at Austin laid off around 50 employees that used to work in diversity, equity and inclusion programs, President Jay Hartzell tried to explain the fragility of the moment.

Like universities across the state, UT-Austin has scrambled to comply with Senate Bill 17, the new state law banning DEI offices, programs, and training at public universities. After closing a multicultural center and ending a scholarship for undocumented students, Hartzell believed the flagship university was in compliance when the ban went into effect in January.

But Hartzell now felt the initial changes would not be enough to placate Republican legislators, who have put higher education under a microscope, he said on a Zoom call with faculty on Monday.

“The legislative climate toward higher education has been moving. And it’s moved even since the bill was passed in June,” Hartzell said. “We have to make choices to worry about the long-run future of the university.”

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