AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new Texas law has prompted systems like the University of Texas System to make the call to pause diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. But what about private campuses?
Senate Bill 17 bans DEI offices, staff and initiatives at public universities and colleges throughout Texas. That law is set to go into effect in January 2024.
Private campuses can still choose to maintain DEI. Concordia University in north Austin said it will.
Monday marked the first day of classes of the spring semester for Concordia. Alexis Solis, a sophomore, said she’s looking forward to a fresh start, not impacted directly by SB 17.
“I feel like I’m just where I need to be,” Solis said. “All my friends go to public universities, and I’m the only one that attends private.”
DEI efforts on public campuses are soon to be shut down.
The UT System Board of Regents agreed last week on how to move forward with DEI ahead of the new law going into effect.
The system released the below statement to KXAN on Monday.
We are working with our institutions to ensure compliance with the new law in a timely manner, and at the same time, ensuring that our institutions provide opportunity, access, and support to Texans of all backgrounds.Catherine Frazier, Director of Media Relations, UT System
At Concordia, Provost and Executive Vice President Kirsti Kirk said DEI is fundamental in serving its students who are mostly Hispanic and Black.
In fact, she said some parents have asked the university whether it plans to stay true to making all students feel included.
“Our answer to that is, yes,” Kirk said. “We put a lot of energy into what we call our ABIDE initiative…. It stands for, accessibility, belonging, inclusion, diversity and equity and wraps that all in a faith-based context of who we are as God’s people. We certainly don’t see ourselves in competition or want to steal from public institutions, but we do believe deeply that we have educational mindsets and the kind of program that Central Texas deeply needs.”
Kirk said they’re maintaining their University Equity nine-person team, which focuses on DEI policies and creating new ones as needed.
KXAN reached out to St. Edward’s University, another private campus, and is waiting to hear back regarding how it plans to move forward with DEI in light of new legislation.