'Ho, ho; hey, hey': Students protest U Texas abolishing DEI initiatives

Protesters chanted 'protect academic freedom' and 'stop attacks on diversity.'

University of Texas at Austin students held a sit-in as the Texas University Systems of Board of Regents voted to end DEI initiatives.

University of Texas at Austin (UT) students protested a Texas University Systems Board of Regents’ Aug. 24 meeting, where members unanimously voted to eliminate diversity offices in order to comply with Senate Bill 17. 

UT students in the Texas Students for Democratic Society (SDS) and Texas Students for DEI held a sit-in during the voting in the Capitol Rotunda chanting “Ho, ho; hey, hey; diversity is here to stay,” in an attempt to disrupt the meeting, Yahoo News reported. They held signs during the Rotunda meeting that said, “Protect academic freedom” and “Stop attacks on diversity.”

Implemented Jun. 17, Senate Bill 17 eliminates race- and sex-based hiring and training, enrollment, differential treatment, special benefits, programs, and activities at public institutions of higher education. By complying with SB17, UT is eliminating its DEI offices.

After the meeting, the chairman of the Board of Regents, Kevin Elftife, praised the leftist protesters.

“I know we had some protesters, I don’t want to use the word ‘protest’ because y’all are doing such a nice job of calling our attention to your issue,” he said on video. “I want to thank you for being here and thank you for your passion on the subject. You’re not going unnoticed and the way you are handling yourself is admirable.”

[RELATED: Leftist Texas students to protest defunding of DEI initiatives]

Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Elftife to the University of Texas Board of Regents in 2017 and 2021. In 2018 and 2021 he was elected as the Chairman of the Board of Regents.

Campus Reform reported in April that UT Austin for a Democratic Society (SDS) students protested the Board of Regents meeting because Texas House Bill 1006 prohibits the support and funding of DEI offices at public universities. 

UT’s multiple DEI offices and programs will be affected by the Board’s decision. The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement runs six programs, including the Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) and the Multicultural Engagement Center

GSC hosts events on “Trans Tuesdays” and “Feminist Fridays.” The Multicultural Engagement Center is a student resource office that presents peer-facilitated social justice and education training and houses six student-run agencies. 

Colleges receive millions in taxpayer dollars to educate their students and faculty in DEI while failing to adequately educate students, particularly those from underserved communities that DEI claims to “help,” Campus Reform fellow Nicholas Giordano said. Those colleges instead propagate the victim mentality and further spread racial division, he says.

By focusing more on DEI offices and initiatives, universities do not prepare students for the working world, Giordano said. Businesses are shelling out billions of dollars to teach employees remedial writing classes, according to a CollegeBoard study, Increported.

[RELATED: Student protestors demand A’s, better cafeteria food, control of the president’s house] 

At UT Austin alone, more than $13 million is spent yearly on DEI salaries for about 200 employees, according to The Epoch Times

As of July 23, Texas, Tennessee, North Dakota, and Florida have signed into law legislation that would prevent colleges and universities from having DEI initiatives, according to data compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis demanded that Florida’s State University System institutions report their DEI expenditures by Jan. 13, 2023. These 12 universities spent more than $34.5 million on DEI initiatives in 2022. 

Campus Reform contacted Texas Students for DEI, Texas Students for Democratic Society and Kevin Elftife for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.