New UT Senate resolution supports college DEI action plans in response to opposition report

Ireland Blouin, Senior News Reporter

A resolution in support of the University Inclusion Action Plan, Strategic Plan for Faculty Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and all other college DEI plans was introduced on Thursday at the UT Senate General Assembly meeting.

The resolution was created in response to a report named “Comprehensive Restructuring” published by the National Association of Scholars in January. NAS is a nonprofit advocacy organization that “seeks to reform higher education” and stands for intellectual freedom, according to their website. The report opposes the DEI Action Plan, now the You Belong Here Plan, put in place at UT and specifically targeted eight schools and colleges within the University.

“The purpose of the legislation was really to make sure that we were being responsive and got to act in conversation, to a certain degree, with the things that were being published about us,” said Corinne Floyd, Senate of College Councils equity and inclusion director.

Among the schools with DEI Action Plans, the report touches on Dell Medical School. The report stated the NAS believes Dell Med uses DEI to push its ideological agenda forward. 

“(NAS) complains about Dell Med incorporating health equity into their curriculum per their DEI plan,” Floyd said. “We went through all of the stats on why it’s absolutely necessary that we talk about health equity because our numbers are just really, really weak when it comes to equitable health care, especially as it pertains to access and proper treatment for Black women … (and) for all (people of color).”

With regards to the Faculty Action Plan, the NAS report stated they took issue with the school making ”ideological requirements” for recruiting. Most of the colleges and schools at UT are requiring DEI statements from prospective faculty members, Floyd said. She said the statements are supposed to make faculty members think about how they plan to incorporate DEI into their work and curriculum. 

“(NAS) is trying to claim that UT is employing an ideology requirement … into their hiring practices,” Floyd said. “Equity and inclusion is not a politically charged notion. … Doing the work that we need to do in order to support all of our students should not be something that’s political.”

Senate Vice President Sameeha Rizvi said these organizations creating reports and spreading false information about DEI are the ones that are truly causing harm. 

“A lot of the issues that students are facing are based on their identities,” Rizvi said. “It’s our job to represent students, and if people see DEI as a threat and they try to remove it from the University and they succeed, then we won’t be able to do our jobs properly.”