Texas Legislation Takes Aim at University DEI ProgramsBreaking News
tags: Texas, higher education, diversity
A bill filed Friday in the Texas Senate would prohibit public higher education institutions across the state from maintaining diversity, equity and inclusion offices or requiring DEI statements in admissions or hiring.
If Senate Bill 17 passed, a state board would create a list of employees that violate certain portions of the bill. That list would shared with every public university and college in Texas. Also, universities cannot hire first-time violators until the end of the academic year when the violation occurred. Repeat violators would be fired and could not be considered for rehire for five years after the dismissal.
The bill is one of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s top legislative priorities. State Sen. Brandon Creighton, chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education, filed the bill, which would enact the restrictions in DEI in higher education in Texas if passed. Eight additional senators have signed on to the bill as authors as of Saturday morning.
The current draft of the bill prohibits public colleges and universities in Texas from having a DEI office or hiring employees or outside contractors to “perform the duties” of a DEI office. The expansive bill blocks any public office that promotes efforts “designed or implemented in reference to race, color, or ethnicity.” It also bans training or activities “designed or implemented in reference to race, color, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation” — except those required under state or federal law.
Universities would face a fine either of $1 million or 1% of the school’s operating expenses — whichever is less — for violations if the bill becomes law. Employees would be placed on unpaid leave for their first violation and fired for their second violation. Faculty could have their tenure revoked.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board — overseer of public universities in the state — would maintain a list of employees who violate the section regarding the prohibition on DEI offices and DEI statements. That list would be shared with other public universities and universities would be limited from hiring people on the list.
The proposed bill allows members of a Board of Regents, appointed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, to approve or deny hires for several positions, including provost, associate or assistant provost, dean or associate or assistant dean, at each institution they oversee.
The Regents would have the authority to approve or deny courses in the core curriculum and postings for tenured faculty positions at the institution they oversee.