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Tenure & DEI Bill Hearing on Monday

Updated: May 31, 2023

We are coming down to the wire this session. If you want to voice your position on these bills, the time is now.

The Tenure Bill (SB 18) and DEI Bill (SB 17) has been scheduled for public hearing this coming Monday, May 8. For a re-cap on the original bills, see this article. What You Can Do

  • Contact your legislator on these bills.

  • Contact the House Higher Education Committee on these bills.

  • Contact the Speaker’s Office on these bills.

  • Testify in person at the House Higher Education Committee hearing at the Capitol.

  • Submit written testimony (3000 characters or fewer) to the House Higher Education Committee.

Please remember that all advocacy work must be done on your own time and with your own resources, as a private citizen. Do not use institution resources. How the Bills have Changed All three bills were amended during their journey through the Senate. Following is a brief description of the changes to each bill from the filed versions. The House deadline for consideration of Senate bills on the floor is May 23. The Senate bills list above must be posted, heard, voted, reported, and placed on the calendar by the Calendars Committee in the next twenty days to make the deadline. SB 18 – Tenure Bill SB 18 has very little changed. It still would eliminate tenure prospectively at public institutions of higher educations. The only change in the Senate process was to push the effective date from September 1, 2023, to January 1, 2024, to allow professors in the late stages of the tenure process to complete the process. Even this change, however, is actually confusing, given the fact that the bill text still cites September 1, 2023, as the cutoff date for tenured professors to be grandfathered. All the issues related to damaging Texas’ ability to compete in higher education and damage to research efforts are still very much contained in the engrossed version of SB 18. SB 17 – DEI Bill SB 17 was significantly amended in the Senate. The bill still requires the elimination of DEI offices, forbids any other offices from performing the functions of a DEI office, and forbids contracting for DEI services. The bill continues to include a list of prohibitions related to preferences on the basis of race, color, sex, ethnicity, or national origin, and prohibits institutions from requiring statements related to DEI from prospective students or employees. The bill still contains language exempting academic course instruction, research, student organizations, guest speakers, data collection, and student admissions, as well as a catch-all paragraph related to “policy, practice, procedure, program, or activity” designed to enhance student academic achievement, so long as they are designed without regard to race, color ethnicity, or sex. The engrossed version of SB 17 now focuses on governing boards, rather than faculty members, as responsible parties. The automatic penalties, list of faculty offenders, and years long expulsion from working in public higher education have been removed. They have been replaced by a relatively non-prescriptive requirement for institutional adoption of policies and procedures for discipline of employees or contractors violating the provision, “including termination as appropriate.” The main penalties in the bill are now directed at institutional funding. Institutions may not spend appropriated funds until they certify compliance with the statute, and must undergo periodic state audits to confirm. If an institution is found to have spend funds on DEI in violation of the statute, the institution loses state funding for the following year. Further, board members or their designees are statutorily required to testify every interim regarding compliance with the statute. Such a provision, amounting essentially to an ongoing statutory subpoena focused on compliance with a single subsection, is unprecedented. SB 16 – CRT Bill SB 16, the “CRT” bill, has the same basic provisions related to prohibitions against compelling or attempting to compel a belief by faculty and continues to be vague. It was amended in the Senate to include a mandatory dismissal provision and uniform procedure developed by the Higher Education Coordinating Board to review complaints and appeal decisions related to complaints. The bill also now requires an annual report to the legislature and the coordinating board on complaints received. Though somewhat mitigated by the inclusion of an appeals process, the vague prohibitions in the bill coupled with the mandatory dismissal provision continue to be of great concern.

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