Texas Universities Just Cut More Than 300 Jobs After Governor Abbott’s DEI Ban

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: May 16, 2024

Texas universities revealed that they have cut more than 300 jobs as they work to follow a new law in the state that bans diversity programs on college campuses. Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed this legislation last year.

This latest move by colleges in Texas comes as Abbott and Republican lawmakers in the state work to enforce their law against diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

Hundreds of Job Cuts at Texas Universities

The University of Texas’ systems and college campuses have cut 311 full-time and part-time job positions since January 1, when Abbott’s new anti-DEI law went into effect.

A bird’s eye view of the University of Texas at Austin seen in the daytime.

Source: Chirag Tripathi/Unsplash

University of Texas college campuses also completely eliminated about 681 contracts and programs that dealt with DEI. All of these program and job cuts occurred on nine different academic campuses and five health facilities.

Enforcing the Law

These revelations came out during a hearing conducted by the Texas Senate subcommittee on higher education. Many educational leaders, such as University of Texas Systems Chancellor James B. Milliken, were asked to testify.

A building at the University of Texas at Austin seen in the daytime.

Source: Alexander Williams/Unsplash

Milliken and others were asked about how their college campuses were following this new law that bans DEI positions and practices on university campuses.

Analyzing Texas Colleges

However, college leaders were also asked how they were dealing with other issues seen in university settings in recent weeks, most notably the rise of antisemitism, as well as pro-Palestine student protests.

A hallway with art on the walls seen on the campus of the University of Texas at Dallas.

Source: Savannah Rohleder/Unsplash

This Texas hearing comes as many colleges around the country are dealing with ongoing protesting, which often ends in the police being called onto campus.

The Fight Against DEI

However, the hearing was also one of the first times the Texas public was able to hear how its state universities were complying with Abbott’s ban on DEI.

The word diversity with its letters colored differently against a black background.

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Many Republican lawmakers have stated that they were worried that Texas universities would find ways to circumvent this new law — which they clearly didn’t want to happen.

Republican Concerns

Republican Senator Brandon Creighton recently came out to express his worry that some Texas colleges would try to avoid following this new law. According to Creighton, this thought left him “deeply concerned.”

A black and white photo of Texas Hall at the University of Texas at Arlington.

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Creighton explained, “While I am encouraged with the progress I have seen from many institutions of higher education in implementing SB 17, I am deeply concerned with the possibility that many institutions may choose to merely rename their offices or employee titles.”


Texas Universities’ Response

During this hearing, Milliken and others were asked to show how they were following the law amidst these Republican concerns.

The clock tower on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.

Source: Dan Dennis/Unsplash

Milliken stated, “You may not like the law… but it is the law.”


Why Texas Republicans Are Against DEI

Texas conservatives have long been fighting against programs, policies, and ideas that they consider “woke.” DEI is simply the latest program that they believe doesn’t help Texans.

Many people crossing the street in front of cars and the Texas State Capitol building.

Source: Justin Wallace/Unsplash

However, the fight against DEI and so-called woke policies isn’t only a Texas fight. Many Republican lawmakers around the United States have picked up this fight and have worked to ban DEI in many instances.


Republicans vs DEI

In just the last legislative session in the U.S. alone, more than 30 different states introduced or passed more than 100 bills that would either restrict or regulate DEI.

Many people with their hands on a wooden table.

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Even with many other states choosing to fight against DEI, Texas remains the one state that has the most stringent laws against DEI in the entire U.S.


Democratic Responses

As many Republican lawmakers and conservative states fight to regulate or ban DEI entirely, Democratic policymakers have made efforts to support the initiative.

A close-up of the Texas State Capitol building seen in the daytime underneath a blue sky.

Source: Clark Van Der Beken/Unsplash

In some states, these liberal lawmakers have sponsored certain bills that have tried to put more support on DEI programs.


Supporters of DEI

While many conservatives are against DEI, the initiative does have a lot of supporters, especially on university campuses.

A person holding up a pro-diversity sign at a rally outside in the daytime.

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Supporters of DEI at colleges have stated that these programs allow schools to be more representative of all Americans, not just a few. They’ve also claimed that DEI makes the entire schooling process more equal.


Different Opinions in Texas

While Texas may be mainly conservative-run, this fight against DEI has shown that some students and regular Texans are against DEI bans.

The University of Texas at Austin seen in the daytime with cars driving on the street.

Source: Kumar Appaiah/Wikimedia Commons

When the University of Austin announced the closure of the Division of Campus and Community Engagement — which also resulted in almost 60 workers being laid off — about 200 students protested the decision by disrupting a virtual faculty council meeting.