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University of Texas System pausing new diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives

UT Board of Regents Chairman Kevin Eltife said the system welcomes elected officials looking into DEI policies throughout higher education in Texas.

AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas System is pausing any new diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies and asking for reports on all current policies across the system's campuses.

"Given the clear legislative focus, we have paused any new DEI policies on our campuses and asked for reports on all current policies across all our campuses. This will give our board a chance to review the various policies systemwide," UT Board of Regents Chairman Kevin Eltife said in a meeting on Wednesday.

Eltife said the topic of DEI activities on college campus has received "tremendous attentional nationally and here in Texas," adding that the UT system welcomes and strives for diversity in its campuses in both the student and faculty populations.

But Eltife also said he believes "certain DEI efforts have strayed from the original intent to now imposing requirements and actions that, rightfully so, [have] raised the concerns of policymakers." 

Eltife said the board welcomes Texas lawmakers looking into DEI policies throughout higher education in the state and said it will work with them in any way possible. 

"We will await any action from the Legislature for implementation by the University of Texas System at the appropriate time and, if needed, the board may consider a uniform DEI policy for the entire UT system," Eltife said.

This move by the UT system comes two weeks after Gov. Greg Abbott's office warned state agencies and public university leaders that the use of DEI initiatives is illegal in hiring. Abbott's chief of staff wrote that DEI policies have "been manipulated to push policies that expressly favor some demographic groups to the detriment of others," though he did not specify which groups he was talking about. 

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has also included a bill to ban "discriminatory 'diversity, equity and inclusion' polices in higher education" as one of his priority bills for this legislative session.

Black and Latino lawmakers have criticized the memo from the governor's office. Advocates have argued that DEI policies are not used in hiring decisions but rather to ensure a diverse pool of candidates applies for jobs and has the same advancement opportunities.

KVUE's Ashley Goudeau spoke about the memo with Jeremy Wallace, a reporter for the Houston Chronicle, earlier this month. See that full interview below:

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