North Lake student news since 1977




Texas closes all diversity offices

Jeaneth Amores

On Jan. 1, Senate Bill 17 became official, shutting down all diversity, equity, and inclusion offices in higher education institutions across the state.

These offices focused on representing people of different backgrounds, fairness and justice regarding compensation and treatment, and emphasizing visibility in all areas of an organization, such as institutions of higher education.

The bill affects higher education institutions, specifically Texas colleges and universities, including Dallas College.

The DEI movement originated during the 1960s Civil Rights movement. As it grew, it began to include “gender, sexual orientation, religion, country of origin and other identities,” according to the DEI Glossary.

People wanted more tolerance and acceptance towards integrated schools, workplaces, and communities throughout the Civil Rights Movement and going forward.

According to the Texas legislature, the law prohibits all public institutions of higher education from “establishing or maintaining DEI offices, officers, employees or contractors that perform the duties of a DEI office.”The bill analysis stated that this law intends to “require a public institution of higher education to be committed to creating an environment of intellectual inquiry and academic freedom.”

Dallas College’s DEI office was formed in 2020. The office helped to ensure that every Dallas College campus had the resources, expertise and dedication so that all students experienced a diverse and inclusive college environment.

Staff and faculty have expressed concerns that this will “create more challenges.”

April Braden, a history professor at North Lake campus, said, “Unfortunately, without a dedicated group of employees in the DEI office doing this work on our behalf, the responsibility falls back on our shoulders.”

Braden said Dallas College’s strengths, including the administration’s always-openness to new ideas “that encourages the principles of DEI within Dallas College.”

Dallas College responded to the new law coming into effect and the concerns people may have. According to the website, in October 2023, an email was sent to all employees to answer any questions the senate bill raised.

The website says, “Dallas College will comply with the new law and deliver against our mission to transform lives and communities through higher education. We will continue to communicate changes directly to our stakeholders affected by the law through appropriate channels as needed.” The statement was followed by frequently asked questions, such as what DEI is, what is prohibited by SB 17, and much more.

Liz Scruggs, associate deputy chief of communications, said, “While SB 17 prohibits certain activities, it does not diminish our fundamental commitment to supporting our students and employees from diverse backgrounds and fostering and celebrating diversity across our community.”

Dallas College will continue to comply with the new law, specifically with the specific prohibitions in SB 17, while providing opportunities and resources to the community to make it more inclusive and open to all.

The University of Texas also made a statement which said, “Our leadership team has been working hard to make sure we continue to support our diverse student body, faculty, staff and our values-based environment.”

According to The UT System and UT Austin, they “remain committed to supporting our community members who bring a variety of perspectives and experiences and come to our institutions from across the state and around the world.”

Scruggs said Dallas College’s “efforts have historically aimed at creating a workplace and broader community where individuals from all backgrounds feel welcomed, valued and have equal opportunities. That has not changed.”

Editorial Cartoon (Jeanth Amores)
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