Turmoil Continues in Texas Higher Ed

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Photo from utdallas.edu

Institutions across the state of Texas have been scrambling to comply with Texas Senate Bill 17 (SB-17), which went into effect in January and effectively prohibits diversity programming in public universities. The latest school to make cuts as a result is the University of Texas at Dallas (UT-Dallas). 

The school announced Tuesday that less than six months after opening, the Office of Campus Resources will close, eliminating 20 associated jobs in the process. Though UT-Dallas closed their Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in December, this new measure comes after Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), author of SB-17, wrote to the chancellor and members of the Board of Regents of the University of North Texas System last month regarding compliance with the new law.

“I am deeply concerned with the possibility that many institutions may choose to merely rename their offices or employee titles. This letter should serve as notice that this practice is unacceptable.” Creighton wrote.

In announcing the closure of the campus resource office, UT-Dallas president Dr. Richard C. Benson said, “I know that this decision will not be welcomed by many in our campus community. I remain committed to ensuring that UT Dallas is a supportive community focused on developing the knowledge, the research and the people that are vital to our future.” 

Student workers impacted by the decision will keep their positions through the end of the semester. Disability and accessibility services and The AccessAbility Resource Center will be relocated. 

In May, the state Senate Committee on Education will hold a hearing to determine universities’ compliance with the law. Institutional leaders must submit written responses to the committee by May 3rd detailing how their school has properly complied with provisions.