A lot of professors at the University of Texas at Austin were really angry when UT President Jay Hartzell announced he was firing 49 people last month who were associated with so-called Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs. Then, after Hartzell followed up a warning to pro-Hamas protesters with a call to the State Police to stop the student “occupation” of campus, the loudest faction of the learned elite on the 40 Acres got out the torches and pitchforks.

657 of them signed a letter saying they have “no confidence” in the UT President and over 800 graduate students signed a letter calling on him to resign. To demonstrate their intellectual acuity, many of them chanted “Hartzell, Hartzell, you’re a clown, we demand that you step down.”

The angry professors had already demanded that all the DEI officers and faculty who were fired be reinstated. Now they are demanding that criminal charges “against students and others” be dropped and that no student face disciplinary action for breaking campus rules for protests.

The professors said, “This is a time for the University to re-establish its reputation as an institution that respects free speech, academic freedom, shared governance, due process, and its own students and faculty.”

But polling released earlier this week by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) makes it clear that a large majority of Texans feel pretty good about the new reputation the University of Texas established by taking a “no nonsense” approach to campus protests.

The ACTA poll, conducted by Texas pollster Mike Baselice, found that 69% of Texans support Hartzell’s “calling in state troopers to arrest and remove students who were violating campus regulations.”

The poll found that the more people knew about the UT protests, the more they supported Hartzell’s action, with support reaching 75% among those who had been closely or even somewhat closely following the news on the protests.

Support for Hartzell did not vary much by age and the gender gap is relatively small – 71% of men supported Hartzell’s action, while 66% of women do, along with majorities of Anglos, Blacks and Hispanics. There’s also no statistical difference in support between college graduates and non-college graduates.

On top of that, 70% of Texans do not believe the UT President should be fired, and there is no gender gap — both 70% of men and women want him to keep his job. There’s also not much statistical difference between college grads and non-college grads, where support for the UT President hovers at 70%.

Media reports echo many in the faculty who insist Hartzell is caving to pressure from Republican legislators and Governor Greg Abbott, both in calling in the state police and firing the DEI officers.

Chelsea Collier, a doctoral student at UT told the Washington Post that “Gov. Abbott is taking a very political opportunity to enforce his agenda, a very right-wing agenda focused on control, not on governance.”

But despite what the UT academics think (and what you see in Texas media) Hartzell has a mandate from a strong majority of Texans including Democrats, Republicans and Independents to keep doing what he is doing to keep the UT campus safe.

Texans also support Hartzell’s clear and decisive action in removing dozens of DEI staffers at UT. Polling conducted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation in early April found that Texans don’t support DEI policies. 68% believe that all students should be treated the same at Texas universities without special programs for Black, Hispanic and Gay students. Only 25% believed special programs should be created for those students to help them fit in and succeed in college. This includes half of African Americans and 63% of Hispanics.

The protesters’ demand that UT divest from companies that do business with Israel was doomed from the start. Texas already has strong laws that prohibit anti-Israeli investment by state agencies and odds are good that legislators will strengthen those laws to make sure academics can’t find a loophole.

It is tragic that American universities across the country – propelled by foggy thinking rooted in DEI – are rioting day after day in support of a terrorist regime that is sacrificing the lives of their own people in order to sway world opinion. Not satisfied with peaceful protests, they break encampment rules and destroy public property while waving Palestinian flags and shouting pro-Hamas slogans. The students don’t appear to see the irony in their championing the masters of genocide – a regime whose only mission is to kill Jews.

There is some comfort in the Lone Star State as we watch this going down around the country. Texas, and the leadership at UT, didn’t give an inch to those who believe supporting terrorism allows them to break the rules.


Sherry Sylvester is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the former Senior Advisor to Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.