Texas A&M’s Office of Risk, Ethics, and Compliance released a FAQ guidance sheet educating employees about the implementation of a state law preventing state universities from promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion principles.

Over the past few years, universities and other public institutions have created DEI departments and councils to promote divisive racial policies. Although seemingly innocuous, DEI initiatives are commonly associated with the controversial critical race theory. Activists in these departments often push for equal outcomes instead of equal opportunities.

Senate Bill 17 by State Sen. Brandon Creighton (R–Conroe) bans Texas’ public universities from establishing a DEI office, using DEI criteria in their hiring practices, or requiring employees or prospective employees to attend DEI trainings.

However, the restrictions do not apply to academic instruction, student organizations, student admissions, guest speakers, or scholarly research.

The measure will go into effect January 1, 2024.

TAMU’s guidance sheet informed employees that the university will no longer have a department responsible for creating DEI programs or activities, and defined DEI as:

  • Influencing hiring or employment practices with respect to race, sex, color, or ethnicity, other than through the use of equal opportunity;
  • Promoting differential treatment of or providing special benefits to individuals;
  • Promoting policies or procedures about race, color, or ethnicity, except as expressly authorized by OGC in accordance with state law; or
  • Conducting trainings, programs, or activities about race, color, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation, other than those expressly authorized by OGC in accordance with state law.

The page instructed employees that TAMU’s hiring practices “must be conducted in accordance with system and university policy which has always been, and continues to be, that faculty members are hired based on merit.” 

The university also cannot “compel, require, induce or solicit any person to provide a diversity, equity, and inclusion statement, or give preferential consideration to any person, based on the provision of a diversity, equity, and inclusion statement.”

Previous Troubles

In June, Texas Scorecard reported that Kathleen McElroy was hired as A&M’s new journalism director and was a proponent of DEI measures at UT Austin. McElroy told NPR that journalists “can’t just give people a set of facts anymore. I think we know that and we have to tell our students that.”

Texas A&M watered down McElroy’s proposed contract following criticism from the public and members of the TAMU Board of Regents. Ultimately, TAMU settled on a one-year deal as a professor without tenure and a three-year appointment as the director of the journalism program, emphasizing that she could be terminated at any time.

McElroy rejected A&M’s final offer, later receiving a $1 million payout from the university.

Soon after McElroy’s rejection, TAMU President Katherine Banks resigned.

Texas A&M is overseen by a board of regents appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott and confirmed by the Texas Senate.

Katy Marshall

Katy graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.