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Texas Bans ‘Marxist’ Diversity Offices at State Universities, Following Florida

The Texas legislature has passed a law banning diversity, equity and inclusion programs at state universities.

The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

The measure — the second of its kind passed by any state, after Florida — is one that critics say could hamstring flagship state institutions like the University of Texas and Texas A&M. They also warn it could chase minority students from state universities and devastate smaller schools.

The bill obligates the governors of each state university to ensure that their institution has no diversity, equity and inclusion office, and gives no preference for diversity hires.

It’s also one that is necessary to protect the state from radicalism, Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) told the House.

“Conservatives began this session by recognizing this simple truth: Texas has allowed leftist to infiltrate our universities for far too long,” Tinderholt said on Monday.

“If you’re voting to keep these people on the Texas tax payroll at these universities, you are complicit in their subversion,” he added.

To proponents, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs are a means to ease the integration of social and sexual minorities in American workplaces. 

“Diversity is where everyone is invited to the party, inclusion means that everyone gets to contribute to the playlist, [and] equity means that everyone has the opportunity to dance/experience the music,” Robert Sellers, first chief diversity officer of the University of Michigan, wrote in a statement.  

But since the national reckoning on race that followed the 2020 murder of George Floyd, conservative activists have sought to frame DEI as fundamentally racist programs.

“The University of Texas has created a radical DEI bureaucracy that equates ‘objectivity’ with ‘white supremacy,’ recommends the word ‘wimmin’ as a replacement for ‘women,’ and affirms ‘polyamory’ and ‘polyfidelity’ as positive sexual identities,” far right activist Chistopher Rufo wrote earlier this month.

“The University of Texas at Austin is wasting untold millions on race and gender narcissism,” Rufo added.

In his statements on Monday, Tinderholt echoed the idea that DEI was something threatening, radical — and fundamentally racist.

“I was pretty disgusted by the things that I watched my Democrat peers say about you, my Republican peers, on Friday. We judge people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin,” Tinderholt said.

“We have an opportunity to ensure that the recent high school graduates who walk into Texas colleges this fall are never infected with a radical ideology,” he said.

But in debate on Monday, several Black and Latino members — all Democrats — stood to recount the crucial role that diversity programs had played in their lives, or those of their children or constituents. 

Rep. Mary Edna Gonzalez (D-El Paso) recounted encountering racist taunts in the dorms during her first semester at the University of Texas — and of the key role that the university’s multicultural center played in keeping her there, and going on to medical school.

“What I love about these spaces is that they’re learning laboratories for our future society. And instead of creating nuance around these spaces, we are banning them,” she said.

With one in six Texas students now attending school out of state, Gonzalez warned that the bill would “perpetuate the exodus we’re seeing.” 

And since many granting institutions that professors rely on now have DEI requirements, she warned that it would harm the state’s abilities to attract processors.

 “If I’m a professor who is considering going to university, why would I consider coming to Texas when I could not get the research funding I need in order to do the work that I want to do?”

She added: “I’d rather go to a different state.”

For example, the National Cancer Institute’s F30 Grant provides $20 million in funding to state hospitals and medical schools that are eligible only if they have a DEI office.

Shuttering all state DEI offices — which are voluntary — would cost the state $1 billion in lost grant funding, Rep. Nicole Collier (D-Fort Worth) told the House.  

Much of that cost, she said, would fall on smaller institutions that depend on third-party grants for research dollars, which she argued they will now struggle to build.

Other Democrats pointed to the message the legislation would send to young collegebound voters in Texas, one of the most diverse states in the country.

“When I’m out in my district, I will tell you that when I speak to young voters, this is the one thing they talk about — diversity, equity and inclusion — and they are not happy about this. And I can tell you when you vote in favor of this legislation, the young people in your district are watching you,” Rep. Christina Morales (D-Houston) told the House.

And Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston) rose to recount a childhood in Texas’s then-segregated school systems. “This is 2023 — 2023! — and we are still fighting for the rights that we fought for in 1954,” she said.

Allen made an impassioned, doomed plea to her GOP colleagues. “Your children are going to grow up with my children. They may even marry my children. Be thinking about that,” she said.

She urged her colleagues to “vote no for my children, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren — and for your children, your grandchildren, and your grandchildren. Make this a better world,” she said.

Her appeal failed. The bill passed 83-60 Monday afternoon along strict party lines.

Source : The Hill

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