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Texas schools warned of financial penalties if they skirt DEI ban: 'Strongest bill in the nation'

Republican State Sen. Brandon Creighton discusses the law he authored to close Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs at public universities.

The Texas lawmaker behind a state law that banned Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs at public universities warned state colleges should take the legislation "very seriously" and not try to skirt it with sneaky workarounds.

Republican State Sen. Brandon Creighton told "Fox & Friends" on Saturday that other schools under the law's umbrella would do well to follow the lead of the University of Texas-Austin, the state's flagship school that announced dozens of salary reductions and position terminations last week in compliance with the new law.

"I expect many other public universities around the state to follow in the University of Texas' lead," he said. 

"We sent a letter from the Texas Senate Education Committee requiring compliance with the new law, and we even have clawback provisions on funding if our universities do not comply. We'll have hearings just in a few weeks, and I think that universities and chancellors and boards of regents are getting ready for those hearings to make sure they can explain they’ve taken this new law very seriously."  

Professors at the University of Texas, which has one of the largest student bodies in the nation, have cried foul about the cuts, saying they go against academic freedom. Asked how the state could ensure universities don't continue with the "ideology of DEI" by simply breaking it up or reconstituting it through other departments, Creighton said the enforcement of freezing or seizing funding would be a "powerful incentive."


"We want to make sure that these DEI offices are removed from campuses permanently," he said. "There will be no reauthorizing, renaming or relaunching the DEI efforts under other strategies, and we are very intent on the Senate Education Committee here in Texas to make sure we achieve exactly that. How do we make sure? I think universities are cleaning house as we speak. That's why the University of Texas removed all of those positions just a few days ago following a letter from the Senate Education Committee, and we have the strongest bill in the nation, and we expect those clawback provisions on funding for the entire university to matter."

Creighton, like other critics of DEI programs at the university level, argued they were simply discrimination by another name in explaining his opposition; DEI supporters argue they address increasingly diverse student populations and are a form of correction against systemic inequities.

"We’ve seen data on minority faculty recruitment and hiring showing that hiring and the outcomes are going backwards under DEI," Creighton said. "We’ve seen professors in Texas terminated for pledging to treat every student equally. We’ve seen Asian-American students excluded from DEI strategies and political leftist loyalty oaths required of every professor applying for a job. We're just not going to stand for that in Texas. That's a chilling effect on free speech."

The announcement at the University of Texas complied with the new law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott that came into effect Jan. 1, which effectively dissolved DEI institutions at public colleges and universities throughout the state, Fox News Digital previously reported.


The firings came after Creighton outlined expectations on how universities will comply with the state law. He wrote that the measure "mandates a fundamental shift in the operation of our higher education institutions." He added that universities are expected to facilitate a "merit-based environment."

The law mandates that all governing boards of public colleges and universities ensure that their institutions prohibit the establishment and maintenance of a DEI office and the issue of "DEI Statements." In addition, hiring practices and training are no longer able to use DEI statements.

The University of Florida earlier this year eliminated all DEI positions and administrative appointments in compliance with a similar law in the state.

Fox News' Joshua Q. Nelson contributed to this report.

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