As the new state law banning diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in government universities goes into effect, some at the University of Texas at Austin are blaming it for ending a scholarship program for illegal aliens.
The initiative, called the Monarch program, focused on providing illegal aliens with scholastic resources—including a scholarship ranging from $500 to $1,000.
According to university officials, the program was eliminated by the university due to it being a violation of Senate Bill 17, which took effect on January 1 of this year.
SB 17—authored by Texas State Sen. Brandon Creighton (R—Conroe)—prohibits “public institutions of higher education from establishing or maintaining DEI offices, officers, employees, or contractors that perform the duties of a DEI office.”
Reportedly, UT Legal decided to close the program on December 21 of last year, and students were notified on January 10.
Now, observers are questioning the actual relationship between SB 17 and the closing of the scholarship program. Legal guidance on SB 17 states that “programs that enhance student achievements without regard to sex, race, color, or ethnicity” are exempted from the DEI ban.
The Monarch program did not involve sex, race, color, or ethnicity qualifications, as illegal aliens are not a single racial or ethnic group.
Despite this, Creighton told Texas Scorecard he’s encouraged by the university’s enforcement of SB 17.
When I authored SB 17, my goal was for Texas colleges and universities to return to their core mission of education and innovation. I’m encouraged to see that administrators are implementing the new law, and the Texas Senate will provide strong oversight to ensure compliance. With the strong enforcement provisions found in the legislation, we expect the institutions to be very careful to avoid renaming or rebranding that would ultimately lead to a clawback of university funding.
Students at UT Austin are nevertheless demanding the university explain the rationale for canceling the program.
Additionally, calls to reinstate the initiative are being led by a left-leaning University of Texas campus organization called Rooted Collective, which is circulating a campus petition. The organization has a history of advocating for the financial support of illegal alien students on campus, according to its Instagram page.
Their petition demands that UT Austin reinstate the Monarch program and asks the UT Austin community to contribute funds to continue Monarch’s services following its closure.