Former Trump official backs Texas bill that would ban diversity offices at public universities
Former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson recently testified before a Texas Senate subcommittee in support of a bill that would limit how public universities in the state can promote and incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs. The bill, known as SB 17, aims to prohibit mandatory diversity training at public universities, while also closing their DEI offices. If adopted, this legislation would significantly impact the way DEI programs are implemented in the state’s educational institutions.
SB 17 has been met with both support and opposition within the state, with Carson being one of its notable advocates. The Republican argues that implementing policies that promote diversity can lead to polarization and division, rather than unity. As he told Inside Texas Politics, “Racial issues are not the same as they used to be, so why should we take them out and put them on a pedestal once again? We don’t need to do that. We need to build on the progress we’ve already made.”
Carson’s support of SB 17 is rooted in his own experience growing up in an era “where real racism existed.” As a pediatric neurosurgeon, he acknowledges the tremendous progress that has been made in advancing racial diversity and equality since then. However, he also stresses that there is no longer a need for single-race institutions and that current policies can sometimes do more harm than good.
Despite its support by Carson and the Texas Senate, SB 17 has faced criticism from those who argue that DEI programs are essential in combating systemic racism and inequality. Supporters of these programs claim that they are necessary to create a more inclusive environment within educational institutions, where all students can feel valued and respected.
Currently, SB 17 is in the hands of the Texas House Committee on Higher Education, where it is expected to undergo further scrutiny. The committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on May 8, where experts and stakeholders in the field of education will have an opportunity to voice their opinions on the bill.
If SB 17 is ultimately adopted, it will represent a significant shift in how public universities in Texas approach issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. While Carson and others argue that such policies may lead to division rather than unity, it remains to be seen whether the potential benefits of DEI programs can be truly achieved under such restrictions.
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