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Texas University and Legislative Leaders Express Outrage Over the Ban on Layoffs Related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Initiatives, Questioning who will be Targeted Next for Termination

The University of Texas at Dallas (Credits: iLink Digital)

The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) and UT Austin face challenges and criticism due to mass layoffs resulting from the state’s new law prohibiting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) offices in public colleges.

These layoffs, affecting around 20 staff members at UTD and 66 at UT Austin, are seen as having a “chilling effect” on campus and have raised concerns about future job security.

Brian Evans, incoming Texas Conference president of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), expressed uncertainty and worry about further layoffs and the reasons behind them, especially considering these staff members were legally employed. The layoffs have also affected students, increasing concern about potential future actions.

UT Austin (Credits: Eater Austin)

UTD President Richard Benson initially assured that no one would lose their job due to Senate Bill 17 (SB 17), but recent developments contradict this statement. The layoffs were announced as a response to the law, prompting criticism and accusations of a breach of trust from state legislative leaders like State Rep. Ron Reynolds, chairman of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus.

The situation has led to calls for transparency and accountability from university systems in complying with SB 17. Employees affected by the layoffs at UTD have been allowed to apply for other positions within the institution. Still, the broader impact and implications of the layoffs continue to be a source of concern and debate.

UTD President Richard Benson (Credits: UT Dallas Magazine)

The layoffs triggered a “chilling effect” and raised fears of further job losses among university professors and state legislative leaders. Brian Evans of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) expressed uncertainty about future layoffs and criticized the lack of clarity regarding the reasons behind the dismissals.

This also was a leading cause of accusations of a breach of trust from lawmakers like State Rep. Ron Reynolds. Reynolds noted that assurances were made during the legislative session that such layoffs wouldn’t occur, highlighting a perceived lack of transparency and accountability in complying with the law.

Affected UTD employees were given the option to apply for other roles within the university. However, concerns persist about the broader impact of the layoffs and their implications for DEI efforts on campus.

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