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UT Austin announces layoffs following SB 17 passage



Last Updated on April 6, 2024 by Robert C. Hoopes

The University of Texas at Austin recently announced layoffs for employees in diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, impacting approximately 60 individuals. This move comes as a response to Senate Bill 17, which prohibits public Texas colleges and universities from implementing DEI initiatives.

UT President Jay Hartzell explained that the funds previously allocated for DEI programs will now be redirected to support teaching and research efforts at the university. However, critics like Sherry Sylvester from the Texas Public Policy Foundation argue that DEI initiatives are discriminatory and promote critical race theory.

The decision has sparked disappointment among some members of the UT community, such as student Reva Proddutti, who emphasized the importance of safe spaces and strong communities for students of color and first-generation students. Meanwhile, Republican State Senator Brandon Creighton cautioned universities that they risk losing millions in state funding if they do not comply with SB 17.

Governor Greg Abbott has hinted at the possibility of introducing more legislation in the next session to enforce the DEI ban. In response to these developments, a Texas Senate Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing next month to evaluate how universities across the state are adhering to the new mandate.

The layoffs at UT Austin highlight the ongoing debate surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education institutions, as Texas continues to navigate the implications of Senate Bill 17 on campus initiatives and programs. Stay tuned for updates on this developing story.

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