Texans United for DEI Statement on Enactment of SB 17

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(TEXAS) – Today, legal changes required by SB 17, a bill passed this past legislative session to eliminate state funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) offices at Texas public colleges and universities, have gone into effect. DEI offices are pivotal in fostering an environment that embraces diversity and ensures equity within academic settings. They serve as vital resources, providing support, guidance, and advocacy for students from underrepresented backgrounds, including Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

The impact of this legislative decision cannot be overstated. It represents a step backward in our collective efforts to cultivate campuses that embrace diversity, foster inclusion, and prioritize equity. For many students, especially those from marginalized backgrounds, these offices were lifelines, offering a sense of belonging and access to resources essential for their academic and personal growth.

Our coalition partners have issued the below joint statement:

“As we enter the near year, millions of Texas students will be returning to their respective campuses for the Spring college semester. This semester will prove different for many as the offices that once provided necessary services and information are now vacant and void.

The absence of state-funded Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) offices on college campuses creates a jarring disconnect, depriving students of invaluable resources and support systems that were essential in ensuring a conducive learning environment for all. As these students return to their academic pursuits, they are met not only with empty spaces but also with the absence of crucial assistance, guidance, and advocacy that these offices provided.

The decision from leadership to eliminate state funding for these essential offices demands a critical examination of its implications on our campuses. The absence of dedicated resources for DEI initiatives risks creating a void in addressing systemic inequalities and fostering an inclusive learning environment for all students.”

While we continue to monitor and ensure overreach by SB 17 is not conducted on campuses, we remind faculty, administrators, and students that this bill does not affect:

  • Academic course instruction;
  • Scholarly research or creative work by an institution of higher education’s students, faculty, or other research personnel or the dissemination of that research or work;
  • An activity of a student organization registered with, or recognized by, an institution of higher education;
  • Guest speakers or performers on short-term engagements;
  • A policy, practice, procedure, program, or activity to enhance student academic achievement or postgraduate outcomes that is designed and implemented without regard to race, sex, color, or ethnicity;
  • Data collection;
  • Student recruitment or admissions.

As advocates for equitable policies and champions of inclusivity, the Texas Legislative Black Caucus and our partners remain steadfast in our commitment to engaging in dialogue, advocating for change, and safeguarding the rights and opportunities of every Texan student in our higher education institutions.

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