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UT Dallas lays off workers to comply with SB 17

UT Dallas laying off employees to comply with SB 17
UT Dallas laying off employees to comply with SB 17 01:57

DALLAS -- UT Dallas is laying off nearly two dozen employees as part of its effort to comply with SB 17. The controversial new state law prohibits institutions from conducting or supporting diversity, equity and inclusion activities, trainings and programs.

On Tuesday, UT Dallas announced plans to close the Office of Campus Resources and Support and said the people who worked there will lose their jobs.

UT Austin made a similar announcement last week, eliminating 60 jobs.  

Both were a response to SB 17.

"There could be some equitable implications as to the nature of such a prohibition or restriction that comes with SB 17, and there could also be some constitutional implications regarding association, speech, due process, equal protection," said Paul Stafford, a Dallas Attorney.

He thinks the law could have some unintended consequences for Texas universities.

"It could encourage or discourage students apply or attend schools in Texas," he said.

The moves by universities come after the law's sponsor, state Sen. Brandon Creighton, sent a letter to university chancellors and regents about enforcing the new law.

In a statement Creighton said: "The enactment of SB 17 is a significant step towards ensuring that merit and ability are the sole determinants of success within our higher education institutions."  

Stafford said officials and citizens will have to address the new challenges that come with the enforcement of the new law.

"I think it's incumbent on both our elected officials and our electorate to address that in a way that fosters the type of society that we believe that we want and that we say that we want," Stafford said.

In the announcement, UT Dallas said student workers with the department will retain their jobs through the end of the semester.

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