Texas Republicans have successfully ushered in significant changes in the state's higher education system by enacting Senate Bills 17 and 18, and UTEP will probably be affected.

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HOW SB 17 AFFECTS DEI OFFICES

According to KXAN out of Austin, their attempt to ban critical race theory via SB 16 is currently stuck.

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The other two bills, however, are significant on their own.

From 2024 on, SB 17 will eliminate DEI offices at universities, which will in effect decrease administrators' influence.

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CRITICS SPEAK OUT AGAINST NEW LEGISLATION

Critics like Antonio Ingram from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund argue that this move favors political leadership's biases rather than addressing a genuine problem, posing potential concerns for diverse students and faculty.

On the other hand, SB 18, which takes effect later this year, doesn't outright BAN tenure but imposes limitations, potentially shifting the power balance towards administrators.

President of UT Austin, Jay Hartzell supports this, saying it upholds academic freedom and "due process" protections for tenure. Whatever that means.

Yet, not everyone agrees.

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CONCERNS OVER ACADEMIC FREEDOM

Ingram had concerns that this could intimidate academics and hamper academic freedom. At the same time, Adam Kolasinski, associate professor at Texas A&M, warned about potential abuse by administrators given the bill's limited due process provisions.

The termination of DEI offices under SB 17 is also HIGHLY contentious.

Despite Hartzell's reassurances about UT Austin's commitment to diversity, Ingram fears it sends a damaging message to marginalized students and will create divisions.

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These bills undoubtedly show a HUGE shift in Texas' higher education policy.

While fans of the bills argue that the changes bolster academic freedom and prevent misconduct, critics caution they could hinder diversity and prevent potential students from even applying.

Let me know what you think at nico@klaq.com

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