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Texas university walks back 'premature' decision to shut down DEI offices prohibited under state law
Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images

Texas university walks back 'premature' decision to shut down DEI offices

A Texas university walked back its earlier announcement that it would shut down its diversity, equity, and inclusion offices to comply with Republican Governor Greg Abbott's new law, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported.

In May, Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 17, which bans public, state-funded universities from having DEI offices that push differential or preferential treatment of individuals based on race, color, or ethnicity.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Senator Brandon Creighton, called the legislation "the most significant ban on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in higher education in the nation." He accused DEI hiring practices and offices of serving as "political litmus tests" that compel speech.

After the bill was signed into law, universities across Texas began announcing the shutdown of their DEI offices, including the University of Houston.

On Thursday, a USA Today reporter shared a photograph of signs reportedly posted outside the university's offices stating, "In accordance with Texas Senate Bill17, the LGBTQ Resource Center has been disbanded."

However, the DCNF reported Monday that the University of Houston has since decided to backtrack on its previous plan to close the offices.

Austin Davis Ruiz, the president of the Houston LGBTQ+ Political Caucus, told the Houston Public Media, "I don't know how the sign got posted. The fact that they said it was posted prematurely also adds to the frustration, to the gut punch of it."

"This was always something we've known was a possibility, but this makes it very tangible and very real," Davis Ruiz added.

The university's associate vice chancellor and associate vice president of media relations, Shawn Lindsey, told the DCNF, "The signage outside the DEI and LGBTQ offices was premature and posted without the full consultation and communication process we pride ourselves on. We understand the importance of keeping our community informed and will have details to share in the coming weeks."

"The UH System is in the process of creating a full implementation plan, which will be presented to the UH System Board of Regents later this month. As the policy takes shape, we will provide clear guidelines and resources to support our community through this transition. We value the academic, social and broader community benefits that arise from diverse campuses and our commitment to our entire university community has not changed," Lindsey continued.

"We will continue to work with impacted units to ensure compliance while maintaining our focus on student success. Both offices are still operating. The Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has moved suites," Lindsey added.

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