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Sunday, October 1, 2023


Eliminating DEI is not the answer

A school building with a sign over it that says closed, presumably referring to a closed diversity program

Jose-Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

Diversity matters, and the Texas Senate’s recent decision to eliminate Diversity, Equity and Inclusion requirements from public universities is a costly mistake in more ways than one.

Under the new legislation laid out by Texas’ Senate Bill 17, DEI offices, trainings, and programs, would be banned from public universities. Additionally, universities must now conduct hiring practices in a “color-blind and sex-neutral” fashion. 

Sen. Brandon Creighton, the bill’s author, claimed that DEI programs prioritize “social justice” over achievement, and said that SB 17 would eliminate racial profiling in hiring practices. 

For example, Creighton argued that DEI programs do not help Asian Americans because they’re not considered “adequately underrepresented”. While the issue of Asian American representation on campus is a complex one, eliminating DEI entirely creates more problems than it solves.

The University’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion office describes its role on campus as “(to) foster an inclusive university community by providing services, programs and support that engage, empower and educate our highly diverse student populace.”

CDI’s website lists multiple resources for students, including a lending library, advising and workshops for students from a variety of backgrounds. Since 2013, the office has expanded to help students that are first generation, differently-abled, LGBT-identifying and so much more.

Under SB17, the entirety of CDI would be at risk of shutting down, with no provisions made for staff there to find new jobs. DEI programs are by no means perfect, but simply eliminating entire departments that support students is not a sustainable solution. 

But beyond eliminating jobs and support systems, SB17 could be immensely costly. A large number of federal grant programs require DEI statements from the universities they give money to. Without them, universities could be denied millions of dollars in research money.

Even college sports could potentially suffer under this bill. The NCAA requires participating universities to provide Diversity Education and Training requirements. Under SB17, universities without DEI could possibly enter restricted status or be removed from the NCAA.

More important than financial loss, however, would be the immense number of students whose unique identities are no longer celebrated or supported. The University of Houston prides itself on being one of the most diverse higher learning institutions in the U.S.

With it’s many diverse student organizations, from Mariachi groups to religious groups to dance groups, SB17 would be a complete betrayal to all of the students here who seek to feel welcomed for who they are.

Examining the efficacy of programs like DEI is of course important, but eradicating them entirely would be counter to the values UH holds dear.

Malachi Spence Key is a journalism senior who can be reached at 
[email protected]

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