Texas A&M defies diversity bans

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Texas A&M has been playing a double game since its extensive commitments to “diversity, equity, and inclusion” were exposed last year. On one hand, the university’s leaders have buried the radicalness of the programming so they could deny that A&M is practicing DEI. On the other hand, leaders have redoubled their DEI commitments in defiance of an executive order from Governor Greg Abbott and the express will of the Texas legislature banning the use of DEI statements in faculty hiring.

Texas A&M’s interim president, General Mark A. Welsh, is openly defying the order. Welsh has not only supported racially based hiring in the past but continues to think DEI bans are not in the “long-range” interests of society and that the policy will not change what the university does very much. He has signaled to his faculty that DEI business can be conducted as usual.

The faculty is responding to the unmistakable signals of the interim president. Our investigation of job postings at Texas A&M and within the A&M system shows that Welsh’s comments have real-world implications. Departments are still hiring based on ideological conformity and racial preferences.

Examples are legion on the Texas A&M website. Many jobs are not bothering to hide their defiance of the legislature’s will and the governor’s order. Welsh’s former home, the Bush School of Government, which is hiring four tenure-track professors, asks candidates for a “cover letter” containing “past or planned contributions to advancing diversity.”

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An IT manager must be a champion of “workplace diversity and inclusiveness.” A senior graduate student specialist must “work to enhance the diversity” of the students. An assistant professor of marketing must have a “demonstrated commitment to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion activities.” A technology specialist must promote “inclusion, diversity, equity, and accountability.” Nearly every application at Texas A&M-Commerce must “have an understanding and knowledge of multicultural and diversity issues.” I could go on and on.

Other methods are more subtle. Instead of asking for DEI statements from job candidates, hiring committees expressly tell applicants that the committee is looking to hire candidates who will celebrate diversity or promote inclusion or help achieve equity. Candidates then fashion letters to show that they will conform to the hiring committee preferences.

Such letters are not required, of course. Committees do not ask for a separate DEI statement; they simply tell candidates that they want to hire those who embrace DEI and let the candidates draw their own conclusions.

Job listings often start with either a “lesser” statement of their commitment to diversity or a “strong” one. The “lesser” statement holds that “Texas A&M University is committed to enriching the learning and working environment by promoting a culture that respects all perspectives, talents & identities.” The “strong” statement uses the same language but replaces the italicized wording with “by promoting a culture that embraces inclusion, diversity, equity and accountability” — all central pillars of Texas A&M’s foundational 2010 diversity plan.

The School of Dentistry is looking for a postdoctoral research assistant who “subscribes to and supports” the lesser diversity commitment. Same for dentistry’s administrative coordinator. So is International Student and Scholar Services for its two listings for immigration specialists. Literally hundreds of A&M system jobs take the same exact approach.

Other jobs reference the “strong” statement and ask candidates to respond. Texas A&M’s Health Science Center is looking for a candidate “that embraces inclusion, diversity, equity, and accountability.” And it is doing it again and again.

I have filled up eight pages of links to diversity “suggestions” in the Texas A&M system, especially at the College Station campus. Sometimes units just say they are committed to diversity and inclusivity.

The conclusion is obvious. Welsh wants to keep Texas A&M moving in the DEI direction. The legislature won’t stop him. Only the Board of Regents has sufficient power to choose a different direction as it hires a new president. There can be no question what A&M is getting if Welsh is retained: His actions speak louder than his words.

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