UT Dallas shutters DEI office in light of new Texas law

The school initially tried to keep the DEI office under a rebranded name, but was forced to close it down this April due to Texas legislation.

Twenty DEI officials were also laid off at the school.

The University of Texas-Dallas closed the doors of its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) office and laid off roughly 20 DEI officials because of the state’s anti-DEI law. 

Senate Bill 17, which went into effect Jan. 1, prohibits Texas’s state colleges and universities from having DEI offices, forcing individuals to give DEI statements, and compelling DEI trainings (among other anti-DEI measures).

[RELATED: Texas lawmaker says ignoring state DEI ban could cost colleges millions]

UT Dallas initially had a DEI office that it replaced with the Office of Campus Resources and Support (OCRS) this January, though the latter was shut down this April. When speaking of OCRS’s mission, President of UT Dallas Dr. Richard C. Benson said that “if you look past what maybe you call it, you know, diversity and inclusion, if it’s things like mentoring, recruiting and the like, support, we will continue to do those things. And so it’ll go under a different name.”

Texas State Sen. Brandon Creighton, the sponsor of SB 17, took issue with this attitude and insisted in March that the law demands that universities cannot evade the anti-DEI mandate by merely changing the titles of DEI initiatives. 

On April 9, Benson announced that “[a]s a result [of SB 17], effective April 30, 2024, [OCRS] and approximately 20 associated jobs will be eliminated. A limited number of functions will be moved to other administrative units to ensure continuity of services to our students, faculty and staff.”

[RELATED: UT Austin eliminates around 60 staff positions after state DEI ban takes effect]

UT Dallas was not the only school that tried to keep its DEI office while rebranding it under a new name, with UT San Antonio having planned to do the same thing before canceling this plan in January. 

Campus Reform has reached out to UT Dallas and Sen. Creighton for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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