The University of Texas San Antonio recently scrapped its decision to effectively rename its Office of Inclusive Excellence to the Office of Campus and Community Belonging.
The decision was announced less than a week after The College Fix reported that the university appeared to just be following the spirit — but not the letter — of a new Texas law that bans DEI offices.
The Dec. 28 article pointed out the renamed office would include the same DEI staff, citing an announcement from President Taylor Eighmy. The university’s media relations department at the time did not respond to requests for comment from The College Fix asking whether the shift was in some ways a rebrand to skirt the law.
S.B. 17 took effect Jan. 1. On Jan. 2, Eighmy reversed the decision and said the newly revamped office would instead close altogether.
“Given our evolving understanding of S.B. 17, as well as continuing voluntary changes in staffing and personnel reappointments from that office, it no longer made sense to launch the new office,” he said in a memo.
“Instead, we will leverage the strong capabilities of our existing offices and divisions to realign ADA and disability services, campus climate and community engagement activities across various institutional divisions.”
The law states that an “institution of higher education may not establish or maintain a diversity, equity, and inclusion office or hire or assign an employee of the institution, or contract with a third party, to perform the duties of a diversity, equity, and inclusion office.”
Exceptions include “academic course instruction,” “research or creative works by an institution of higher education’s students or faculty,” and activities by student groups. The law also outlaws DEI statements in hiring and enrollment.
Universities that do not follow the law risk losing state funding.
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