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Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed a piece of legislation Wednesday banning diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) offices in public higher education.
“Now that these bills are law, institutes of higher education are better equipped to prepare the next generation of leaders, and keep Texas the economic engine of the nation,” said Republican State Senator Brandon Creighton, who introduced the bill earlier this year. He added that “the legislation delivers strong enforcement with mandates to return Texas colleges and universities to their core mission: educate and innovate.”
A press release from Creighton’s office described Senate Bill 17 as “the most significant ban on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in higher education in the nation,” adding that DEI offices had “grown in size and influence across college campuses requiring political litmus tests.”
“With this bold, forward-thinking legislation to eliminate DEI programs, Texas is leading the nation, and ensuring our campuses return to focusing on the strength of diversity and promoting a merit-based approach where individuals are judged on their qualifications, skills, and contributions,” Creighton said.
Creighton’s office said the bill “will close DEI offices on the campuses of state-funded colleges and universities and put an end to all activities that discriminate against students based on their race, ethnicity, or gender.”
In addition, the bill also prevents the use of diversity statements for candidates applying for employment at Texas universities.
The Texas Tribune reported Abbott’s chief of staff spoke out in opposition to DEI programs earlier this year, writing a memo that read, “The innocuous sounding notion of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has been manipulated to push policies that expressly favor some demographic groups to the detriment of others.”
Democrat State Senator Judith Zaffirini condemned the legislation when it was approved by the Senate, arguing, “Senate Bill 17 will be a giant step backward in our quest for equal opportunity and equal worth for all.”
“Guaranteed, lifetime employment is now a thing of the past at Texas public colleges and universities,” Creighton stated in the press release before going on to say “This legislation will be a model for the rest of the nation, ensuring that Texas students have hard-working professors who focus on quality instruction and groundbreaking innovation.”