AUSTIN, Texas — A group of lawmakers gathered at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday to denounce efforts to eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies in the state.
Last month, Gov. Greg Abbott’s chief of staff sent a memo to state and university leaders telling them using DEI initiatives in hiring is illegal. Diversity advocates say DEI programs are not used in hiring but are meant to advance equal opportunity for minority populations.
DEI policies have recently come under attack from several conservative leaders around the U.S., including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
On Tuesday, State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) said these programs create a sense of belonging and are made better by people with different walks of life and different perspectives.
"I'm going to make certain that as we 'use merit' to make a determination as to who gets into A&M and any other university in the state, we're going to be monitoring it. You're going to be using merit to get your athletes in," West said. "I'm going to make certain young people in our community understand that, if for some reason the university isn't good enough for a non-athlete, then you need to think about what campus you're actually going to attend."
West went on to say there would be a "robust" discussion on DEI in the Legislature this session.
Lawmakers with the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus and the Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus have called the removal of DEI an "attack on already disenfranchised people."