Erica Davis Rouse, the incoming president of Texas A&M’s Black Former Student Network, said she was heartbroken when she learned about Dr. McElroy’s account of receiving a series of watered-down offers from the university, which she turned down, after conservative Aggies criticized her over her views on “diversity, equity and inclusion,” or D.E.I.
“She would have made a difference,” Ms. Davis Rouse, who graduated in 1995 with a degree in journalism, said of Dr. McElroy, who is also an alumna. “That was taken away from the students because of D.E.I. hysteria and overcorrection.”
Zoe May, the incoming editor of Texas A&M’s student newspaper, The Battalion, said she teared up with joy after she and the newspaper’s staff met with Dr. McElroy following the announcement of her hiring. Ms. May, who is biracial, said she was troubled by the university’s lack of transparency over the offers it made to Dr. McElroy and disappointed to lose out on hiring a journalism leader who is a Black woman.
“A lot of people think that representation is only important when you’re young, and you’re growing up, on TV and in movies, but I think it’s also extremely important on college campuses,” Ms. May said.
But some other alumni were troubled by the initial selection of Dr. McElroy, a former New York Times editor and longtime journalist and now a professor at the University of Texas, to lead her alma mater’s revived journalism program. Some conservative alumni and students had criticized her for her research on race in media and recent writings in which she described the benefits of having a diverse faculty or newsroom.
Valerie Muñoz, a journalism student at Texas A&M, last month wrote an article for Texas Scorecard, a conservative news website, under the headline “Aggies Hire NY Times ‘Diversity’ Advocate To Head Journalism Program.” Ms. Muñoz highlighted a 2021 interview of Dr. McElroy by WBUR in Boston in which she said that journalism that was perceived as objective often favored a white, male perspective and that journalism was “not about getting two sides of a story or three sides of a story if one side is illegitimate.”