Texas universities ‘plot and plan’ strategies to skirt laws

The Texas government has banned Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs from higher education. AIM visited Texas A&M, Texas State, and the University of Houston and was delighted to find that some administrators at these schools have been complying with the ban. 

Unfortunately, several universities like Tarleton State, University of North Texas, and the University of Texas at Dallas still offer these services under the table, funneling their initiatives through student organizations and vague renamings.

Tarecka Payne, the Director of Student Belonging at the University of Texas at Tyler, stated that they’ve had to rename their office three times to skirt the new laws. 

Similarly, UNT administrators have simply replaced the title DEI with “belonging,” hoping to fly under the radar of enforcement.

Joe Posada-Triana, the Director of Underserved Students at UNT, stated that “the DEI work is still being done” and that their Diversity and Inclusion task force has simply been renamed to a “belonging task force.”

At Tarleton State, their DEI “Trojan horse” is the “First Generation Initiative,” where according to Academic Coordinator, Marcus Brown, administration is working with professors to train and bring DEI information to student “from another lens.” He also proudly claimed that “First Gen is really DEI all wrapped in one.”

Over in Lubbock, Texas Tech framed its DEI initiatives under the vague name of “Campus Access and Engagement.”

Most notably, AIM investigators found that UT Dallas still had a “transition closet” for students that administrators say provides a diverse selection of clothing so it is not identified as a closet for transitioners. 

When these renaming and “Trojan horse” efforts fail, then administrators like Kevin Nguyen, the Associate Director of Student Advocacy at the University of Houston, say that by passing down their LGBTQ-exclusive  “lavender graduation ceremony” to student organizations, they can still conduct business as usual.

With vigilante DEI administrators blatantly ignoring Texas law at universities across the state, AIM vows to continue to investigate and unearth instances like these and hold the perpetrators accountable.

See more of AIM’s work in Texas below: