Texas eliminates DEI as hiring criteria

Emily Copeland, Reporter

Diversity, equity and inclusion policies have become commonplace on many college campuses. Earlier this month, all public universities and state agencies in Texas received a letter from Gov. Greg Abbott with a warning that DEI hiring violates federal and state employment laws.

The memo said, “when a state agency adjusts its employment practices based on factors other than merit, it is not following the law. Rebranding this employment discrimination as ‘DEI’ does not make the practice any less illegal.” 

Many schools, including the University of Texas, Texas Tech University, and Texas A&M University have already made efforts to pause or change their policies. MSU officials believe the university has been handling hiring in the correct manner already. 

Interim President Keith Lamb said he doesn’t believe the new order will change how MSU operates.

“Essentially, what the governor was saying is we cannot use DEI as a litmus test in hiring. And Midwestern doesn’t and hasn’t done that anyway, used it as a litmus test. So I don’t see it materially impacting our hiring practices,” Lamb said. 

MSU, which is close to becoming a Hispanic-serving institution, takes diversity practices seriously, with its recently adopted core values reading it  “…is committed to community, cultivating a diverse and inclusive campus environment.” 

There have been no DEI bills filed in Texas as of yet, and Lamb said he doesn’t expect any impact on the issue from the ongoing legislative session.

“This is early in the session, but at this time I don’t see any impact with DEI on MSU from where we’re at right now,” Lamb said, later adding, “You see different bills and so on and so forth being filed around the country. We just don’t know if that’s going to happen in Texas or not, if any bills related to DEI will be filed.”

Lamb said if a bill is filed, MSU will continue to uphold the law, but will also continue to prioritize the needs of its students.

“Whatever the law is, we’re going to follow the law, right?” Lamb said. “But I can also tell you that we’re gonna take care of our students, we’re going to support our students, we’re going to do everything that we can to make our students successful, you know, regardless. And so we’re going to follow the law but we’re also going to take care and support our students.”

A statement from the MSU Public Information Office backed up Lamb’s sentiment. The statement read, “We will continue to lean into our core values, as we celebrate and advance the beauty of our diverse campus while maintaining an environment free from any discrimination.”

The Texas legislative session runs through May 29, with the deadline for unrestricted bill filings coming on March 10.