Texas Lawmakers Pass Ban on D.E.I. Programs at State Universities

The News: Just a day before the Texas legislative session ended, state lawmakers approved a ban on offices and programs that promote diversity, equity and inclusion at publicly funded colleges and universities. On Sunday, both chambers approved Senate Bill 17, which was sponsored by Brandon Creighton, a Republican state senator.

“The days of political oaths, compelled speech, and racial profiling in university hiring are behind us,” Mr. Creighton said in statement.

Democratic leaders, college educators and students warned that the bans could have wide repercussions including on the ability to attract and retain students from diverse backgrounds and on the chances of winning research and programming grants.

The Texas Conference of American Association of University Professors said in a statement that the bill sends a clear message to the 1.3 million public university and community college students, “that our state is not committed to welcoming students from all backgrounds and to building a public higher education system that is truly inclusive and supportive of all.”

College students and faculty protested in Austin against a bill that would ban diversity, equity and inclusion programs.Credit…Jay Janner/American-Statesman, via USA Today

Why It Matters: Education is at the forefront of political battles across the country.

Texas is the latest state to defund diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, known as D.E.I. The move there is part of a national wave by conservative politicians who say that taxpayer money is being used to stoke racial division and push a liberal agenda in colleges and universities.

An Associated Press analysis of legislative bills found at least 30 bills in about a dozen states this year were aimed at ending diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in colleges and universities.

Background: D.E.I. has been targeted nationally.

Across the country, public colleges and universities have opened D.E.I. offices to help attract and support a broad range of students. But in recent months, those efforts have been targeted by conservative state legislators who paint them as discriminatory. So far, several universities have halted their D.E.I. programs, prompted either by laws or political pressure. In perhaps the most high-profile case, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida signed a bill into law two weeks ago prohibiting institutions of public higher education from spending funds on D.E.I. initiatives. In Iowa, the Board of Regents president announced the current D.E.I. programs at three public universities would be studied, and any new initiatives would be halted until the review was completed.

The Texas bill is part of a national wave by conservative politicians who say that taxpayer money is being used to push a liberal agenda in colleges and universities. Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign it.Credit…Eric Gay/Associated Press

What’s Next

Senate Bill 17 heads to Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, who will almost certainly sign it. If the bill becomes law, D.E.I. programming at public colleges and universities would be required to shut down in about six months.

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