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Texas Senate Approves Anti-DEI Bill for State Public Universities

The Texas Senate has approved a bill that would limit how state public universities can promote equitable access to higher education and foster campus diversity, The Texas Tribune reported.Sen. Brandon CreightonSen. Brandon Creighton

Senate Bill 17 – filed by Sen. Brandon Creighton – passed along party lines in a 19-12 vote Apr. 19. It aims to make universities shut down diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) offices, ban mandatory diversity training, and restrict hiring departments from asking for diversity statements, all under the threat of temporarily cutting off access to state funds. Additionally, the bill would require university system boards of regents to create policies to discipline or fire employees taking part in diversity efforts.

“DEI programs have been shown to be exclusive, they have been shown to be ineffective and they have shown to be politically charged,” Creighton said. “Many of these programs have been weaponized to compel speech instead of protecting free speech.”

SB17 also allows the state of Texas to sue accreditation agencies that penalize universities for complying with the law and lets students and employees sue schools if forced to participate in any such DEI training.

The bill will not affect course instruction, faculty research, student organizations, guest speakers, data collection or admissions.

However, those against the bill argued that it would hurt efforts to address discrimination; make people from underrepresented groups feel less welcome; stop progress toward making campuses more representative of the state’s population; and make it harder for schools to receive research funding from federal agencies or private organizations that look at commitments to diversity.

“The consequences range from the unknown to the dire,” said Sen. Judith Zaffirini. “Senate Bill 17 will be a giant step backward in our quest for equal opportunity and equal worth for all. … I worry that stifling diversity, equity, and inclusion on our academic campuses … will breed the negative attitudes and behaviors typically attributed to ignoramuses while stifling the development of tolerant, enlightened communities.”


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