Texas Tech Reviews Its Hiring Practices As Efforts To Promote Diversity Come Under Fire
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Texas Tech University officials said they are reviewing hiring processes after a conservative education advocacy group criticized how the university's biology department evaluated candidates' commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
According to documents obtained by the National Association of Scientists in an open records request and posted online Monday, the biology department at the Texas Institute of Technology used the rubric to evaluate finalists' backgrounds, understanding and plans to improve DEI- on campus. and other qualifications. like research. Qualification, teaching experience and letter of recommendation.
In a statement Tuesday, the university said it would remove DEI's assessment topics if they were found to be part of the hiring practices of other departments.
"TXT faculty hiring practices will always focus on disciplinary excellence and the ability of candidates to support our priorities of student success, effective scholarship, and community engagement," the statement said.
As higher education institutions commit to building more inclusive and diverse campuses, it is becoming common for universities to ask job applicants about their positions on diversity, equity, and inclusion policies. , as well as their experience working with different groups of students, such as people. of color. and people with disabilities, veterans, and LGBT people.
But in recent months the effort has become a new target for conservatives who see it as discriminatory. This week, Gov. Greg Abbott's office sent a letter to state agencies and public universities telling them it is illegal to consider diversity, equity and inclusion in hiring.
During a Texas Senate finance committee hearing Wednesday, Ted Mitchell, president of the Texas Tech University System, said the situation in the biology department was not university policy.
"I don't believe in testing slavery," Mitchell told the committee. "It is no longer appropriate to ask them if they are Christian or Muslim. When we know something like this has happened, we stop it."
Meanwhile, Renu Hathor, president of the University of Houston system, told the panel that she saw the governor's speech as a "reminder" of how her university system should handle hiring.
"Memories are always good," he said. "We have instructed all investigative commissions… "It is the law", "This is how they do not discriminate", it is very clear to them.
Hathor added that the university system is working to encourage more applicants to apply for the vacancies.
But members of the Texas Black Caucus criticized Abbott's stance.
"Many of our institutions of higher education and public bodies rely on the use of DEI initiatives to work around anti-discrimination laws to ensure that employment decisions are not made on the basis of race, religion or sex. Recruitment the best requires diverse candidates first," writes Rep. Ron Reynolds of Missouri. Abandoning DEI's initiatives will only hurt institutions in Texas.
Efforts to gauge applicants' commitment to DEI jobs may include diversity statements, in which applicants are asked to write about their experiences with diverse student groups and how they plan to help students from all backgrounds, succeed and are gaining popularity on campus. across the country over the past decade. Most UC campuses require applicants to write a cover letter outlining their diversity efforts. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign requires a diversity statement for those applying for a position.
DEI's higher education initiatives go beyond recruitment. In recent years, and especially after the killing of George Floyd in 2020, which ignited a national awareness of racial inequality, Texas universities have made additional efforts to increase student diversity on campus through initiatives such as additional scholarship funding. .
Many Texas universities have offices dedicated to helping underrepresented students stay in school and graduate. Many schools post diversity, equity and inclusion statements on their websites.
However, in recent years, Republican leaders have spoken out against certain policies designed to encourage diversity and universities that focus on race and ethnicity. DEI and Critical Race Theory, an academic framework that examines how racism manifests in state laws and institutions, has been targeted by conservatives who argue that white people are treated unfairly or discriminated against in schools and workplaces.
Many conservatives argue that DEI ads force candidates to sign up for ideological tests.
"The DEI job evaluation deterministically selects candidates based on their political and social views. Anyone who opposes, for example, racial preferences when hiring or hiring," wrote John Siler of the National Association of Scientists, who first published the material recruitment techniques for anyone. which opposes. , for example, racial preferences in hiring or employment.
The recruitment process, which is taking place at Tech, began in the fall of 2021 when the Department of Biology Technology recruited four assistant professor positions.
According to documents released by the National Association of Scientists, each candidate met with three members of the department's DEI committee. The documents show that the committee evaluated each candidate's strengths and weaknesses based on their understanding of the Institute's efforts, their experience and their plans to contribute to efforts to develop diverse, inclusive and equitable practices on campus. .
In general, the documents show that the committee considered it an advantage if the applicant's research was related to DEI, if they were interested in helping students, or if they demonstrated an understanding of potential financial barriers that could hinder students. Success:
The committee considered the candidates' lack of understanding of the difference between diversity, equality and inclusion. Or if they don't understand that struggling students may not seek help. The panel called this a weakness, with one contestant referring to teachers as "she" on several occasions, which investigators took as a slight on the teachers.
During a committee hearing Wednesday, Senate Treasury Chair Sen. Joanne Hoffman of Houston, who has raised concerns about the city's department's practices, said she expects DCI debates to continue during the current legislative session.
"My goal today is to raise this issue and start a discussion, to let universities know that budget officials care," he said.
inspiration. Texas Tech University, the Texas Tech University System, and the University of Houston provided financial support for The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization funded in part by donations from members, foundations, and corporate sponsors. Financial sponsors play no role in Tribune journalism. Find their full list here.
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