March 10, 2023
Among an avalanche of bills filed in the Texas Legislature on Friday were at least half a dozen proposals that would affect public colleges — a sign of Republican politicians’ keen interest in reforming higher ed this year.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Texas Senate by virtue of his position, is helping lead the charge. Patrick named banning critical race theory, ending colleges’ diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, and eliminating tenure among his top 30 priorities for the 2023 legislative session.
Prior to Friday, state legislators had already filed bills that proposed prohibiting colleges from requiring diversity statements as a condition of employment or admission; preventing employers, including city and county governments and higher-ed institutions, from using “inherent classifications” — race, gender, etc. — in employment or admissions decisions; and banning colleges from staffing diversity, equity, and inclusion offices.
The push in Texas comes amid heightened legislative interest nationwide in reforming higher ed this year. At least 21 bills in 13 states have been introduced so far that would curb colleges’ attempts to boost diversity, equity, and inclusion if passed, a Chronicle analysis found. Texas lawmakers appear interested both in restricting colleges’ diversity efforts and in reshaping other aspects of higher ed.
Here are some of the higher-ed bills that emerged in Texas on Friday.