“University of Texas Takes Drastic Measures as New Legislation Forces Cancellation of Cultural Graduations 🚫🎓
In response to the recently enacted Texas law prohibiting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) offices, the University of Texas at Austin (UTA) has announced the cancellation of cultural graduation ceremonies. Senate Bill 17, effective this month, impacts DEI programs across public colleges and universities in the state.
Last week, UTA communicated through an email that they would cease funding for cultural graduation ceremonies, affecting events such as Black Graduation, Latinx Graduation, and GraduAsian. This decision follows the closure of the university’s Multicultural Engagement Center (MEC) to comply with the state law, further impacting welcome programs and institutes.
The MEC is reportedly working to find an alternative venue for the affected graduations. However, the closure has left students concerned about the recognition and official status of their cultural graduation events.
A sophomore at UTA expressed disappointment, highlighting that Black Graduation was a significant reason for attending the university. Despite the possibility of students organizing their own events, the lack of university recognition could diminish their official status.
Senate Bill 17, signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott in June 2023, mandates public colleges and universities to prohibit the establishment and maintenance of DEI offices and the issuance of DEI statements. The law also restricts hiring practices and training from using DEI statements.
Efforts to curtail DEI initiatives in Texas are increasing, with Representative Dan Crenshaw introducing a bill to freeze federal funding to institutions forcing students to endorse DEI ideologies. The bill aims to prevent the endorsement of ideologies promoting differential treatment based on race, color, or ethnicity.
As the debate over DEI initiatives continues, 40 bills have been introduced in 22 states nationwide, aiming to limit such programs as of July 2023, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
UT Austin has not provided an immediate response to requests for comment.