In accordance with new state law, the University of Houston will eliminate its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion office as well as its LGBT Resource Center at the end of August.
A university official, however, says that most services will remain depsite the closures.
UH confirmed their plans during a Board of Regents meeting this week, saying their policies will be updated to conform to the new law.
Senate Bill 17, by State Sen. Brandon Creighton (R–Conroe), was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in late June. The law bans Texas’ public universities from establishing a DEI office, using DEI criteria in their hiring practices, or requiring employees or prospective employees to attend DEI trainings.
Notably, the restrictions do not apply to academic instruction, student organizations, student admissions, guest speakers, or scholarly research.
UH’s Division of Student Affairs has since announced plans to open a new Center for Student Advocacy and Community. The university states the new center’s primary goal is to “provide robust support to all students, ensuring they have the resources and opportunities to be successful, thrive and graduate.”
On Thursday morning, the University of Houston Board of Regents met to discuss their next steps with the new law to take effect soon.
Dona H. Cornell, vice chancellor for legal affairs and general counsel, told the board over the summer she worked with multiple people and other systems in Texas, to create consistency regarding how universities will deal with the new law.
Cornell said that while their policies align with the new law, the services they currently provide to “underserved communities” will remain. Still, students will have to go to another source rather than a DEI office for those resources.
“Will we change some of the programming that we have on campus? Yes we will. But will we not provide the needed services? That’s not going to happen,” said Cornell. “There are, in all honesty, there are some things that we will no longer be doing. But the large majority of the programming that we provide and the activities we have will continue.”
The law is set to take effect January 1, 2024. With the deadline nearing, many universities are scrambling to shut down or reorganize their DEI offices.