Texas Legislature: Higher Ed Bill Tracker – AAUP/AFT Analysis of Texas SB 16, 17, and 18 to limit academic freedom, ban DEI, and eliminate tenure
Oppose Texas bills to limit academic freedom, ban DEI, eliminate tenure:
- Join the Texas AFT Defend Tenure, DEI & Academic Freedom campaign to ask your Reps to vote against these bills
- Invite faculty, students, alumni, parents, and community and business leaders to join the campaign via the Impactive App using code 851761
- Send comments to the Senate Higher Ed Subcommittee by clicking on each picture and selecting E-mail Your Senator or calling their office
- Testify at a committee hearing — see our Bill Tracker for the hearing schedule and the advocacy training page for resources and guidance
Texas AAUP Members testified against anti-tenure SB 18: Brian Evans (YouTube) as well as Andrea Gore (39:21), Pat Heintzelman (41:13), Derek Chiou (55:48), Karma Chavez (1:15:28) in part II of the hearing recording.
New Op-Ed: Andrea Gore, “UT scientist: Killing tenure would ruin the state’s research universities“, Houston Chronicle, March 24, 2023. You only need to provide your e-mail address to access the article if not a subscriber.
Academic Freedom and Tenure: Impact of eliminating tenure white paper and talking points; Texas AAUP Higher Ed Talking Points and Academic Freedom Basics; AAUP Academic Freedom – Tenure; Florida petition
Teaching About Race and Gender Identity: Impact of banning teaching about race and gender identity white paper and talking points – Proposed bill could ban critical race theory from Texas universities – AAUP Statement on Educational gag orders: Legislative interference in teaching about race
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI): Impact of banning DEI programs white paper and talking points – Legislative Black Caucus press conf. opposing Gov. Abbott’s anti-DEI agenda – Gov. Abbott tells state agencies to stop considering diversity in hiring – House bill restricts speech
Texas AAUP Legislative Visits: Brainstorming with Texas Legislators at AFT Breakfast – Advocating with Texas AFT and with TACT
AAUP@UT: Advocating for Academic Freedom and Tenure Slides – Joining AAUP – Application for Chapter Status – Officers – By-Laws – Meetings in Spring 2023 – Fall 2022 – Spring 2022 – Fall 2021
UT Austin: Petition for faculty & staff solidarity with graduate student workers – Advocating with Texas A&M for Higher Ed – Faculty authority in curriculum matters – Academic freedom in UT System policies
Founded in 1915, AAUP has helped to shape American higher education by developing the standards and procedures that maintain education quality and academic freedom in this country’s colleges and universities. AAUP is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers.
All AAUP members affiliated with UT Austin are automatically members of AAUP@UT. If you are affiliated with UT Austin and would like to join the AAUP@UT mailing list, please email Brian Evans.
House Bill to Restrict Speech
State Representative Carl Tepper filed HB 1006 Relating to protected expression, intellectual freedom, and viewpoint diversity at public institutions of higher education on Dec. 13, 2022. (Track HB 1006 History).
Please see the article “Texas bill targeting ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’ restricts student speech and is unconstitutional” by Tyler Coward, FIRE, Dec. 20, 2022.
This bill has three sections of changes to the Texas Education Code:
- Sec. 51.354 Institutional Responsibility. Roles of an institution of higher education
- changed from transmitting culture to permitting its diffusion
- changed from extending knowledge to facilitate its discovery, improvement, and dissemination
- required to foster a diversity of viewpoints
- required to maintain political, social, and cultural neutrality.
- Sec. 51.9315 Protected Expression on Campus. (a)(2). Adds “published or unpublished faculty research, lectures, writings, and commentary” to the existing list of “Expressive Activities”.
- Sec. 51.9315 Protected Expression on Campus. Student expressive activities at an institution. Changes include
- Demonstrate a commitment to intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity
- Prohibit all diversity, equity and inclusion programs and efforts at public institutions of higher education beyond what is needed to uphold the 14th Amendment
- A person may bring an action against an institution of higher education to compel it to comply with this section and have its legal fees covered by the defendant if the lawsuit is successful.
Last point under Section 3 above creates a private cause of action to go with the vaguely worded prohibitions of the bill, which gives activists standing in court based on extremely subjective criteria.
State Rep. Carl Tepper filed two related bills:
- HB 1033 Relating to prohibiting the use of political tests by governmental entities and certain government contracts. HB 1033 forbids any requirement for an employee of a public institution of higher education to participate in an initiative or formulation of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- HB 1046 Relating to prohibiting the use of political tests by public institutions of higher education. HB 1046 forbids any requirement for an applicant, student or employee of a public institution of higher education to make a commitment to support diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at the institution.
HB 1006 and HB 1046 will likely be referred to the House Higher Education Committee, whereas HB 1033 will likely be referred to the House State Affairs Committee.
- Sec. 51.354 Institutional Responsibility. Roles of an institution of higher education
Visiting the Texas Legislature with TACT
Jim Klein, President of the Texas Association of College Teachers, led eight faculty and three staffers to visit the Texas Senate on Dec. 2nd. They visited the staffers for the Senate Committees on Higher Education, Finance, and Health & Human Services as well as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s office. The talking points were
- Academic Freedom and Tenure Ensures World Class Teaching
- Campus Safety and Building Repair due to Age & Storm Damage
- Higher Education Funding for Faculty, Staff and Research
The faculty were also members of the Texas AAUP Conference, Texas American Federation of Teachers, and Texas Faculty Association, and represented themselves as individuals. Brian Evans provided “A Pledge to Support Higher Education in Texas” by the Texas AAUP Conference to the Legislative staffers.
AAUP@UT Applies for Chapter Status
On December 6th, AAUP@UT applied for official recognition as an AAUP Chapter. Per AAUP guidelines, all AAUP members affiliated with UT Austin voted on a slate of officers and by-laws. Vote was unanimous in favor. Next, the AAUP will verify that the conditions for a new chapter have been met and finally, the national AAUP Council will vote to approve the request.
UT MD Anderson Launches AAUP Chapter
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center launched an AAUP Chapter in November, thereby becoming the only UT component institution with an active AAUP Chapter. This follows several tumultuous years between the administration and faculty, which are still sadly on-going. See the April 2015 AAUP Investigative Report concerning deviations from AAUP principles on tenure and shared governance in dismissal of three faculty members by the UT MD Anderson administration and the resulting AAUP Censure of UT MD Anderson which remains in force.
Underpaid@UT Action on Dec. 13th
Underpaid@UT delivered graduate student worker demands on Dec. 13th, to UT Austin Provost Sharon Wood. News story. Underpaid@UT is a movement of UT Austin graduate student workers fighting for a living wage and just working conditions, in solidarity with underpaid workers @UTAustin and beyond, supported by the Texas State Employees Union.
Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus Hosts Higher Ed Panel
Texas Senator José Menéndez hosted a Higher Education Panel on December 3, 2022, by Zoom, as part of the 2022 Latino Summit, with panelists
- Jaime Puente, Director of Economic Opportunity Every Texan
- Paige Duggins-Clay, J.D., Chief Legal Analyst, Intercultural Development Research Association
- Ray Martinez III, J.D., President and CEO, Texas Association of Community Colleges
Congrats to the inaugural Executive Committee members for the UT Austin AAUP Chapter unanimously elected by the AAUP members on campus!
- President — Brian Evans — Email
- Vice President — Andrea Gore — Email
- Secretary — Bill Fagelson
- Treasurer — Jen Ebbeler
- At-Large Position — Polly Strong
- At-Large Position — Karma Chavez
Victory for Faculty Speech
Judge Mark Walker issued a preliminary injunction on Nov. 17, 2022, against Florida HB7 (“Stop W.O.K.E. Act”) in Pernell vs. Florida Board of Governors. Judge Walker writes “the First Amendment does not permit the State of Florida to muzzle its university professors, impose its own orthodoxy of viewpoints, and cast us all into the dark.” (page 135) Several faculty members and one student filed the lawsuit in US federal court. Steve Vladeck, JD, summarized this case at our Oct. 31, 2022, meeting.
UT Austin AAUP Chapter by-laws presented at the Sept. 27, 2021, AAUP@UT meeting and revised April 2, 2022, after feedback from AAUP.
The by-laws were approved unanimously by the AAUP members affiliated with UT Austin on December 5, 2022.
We have submitted the by-laws to AAUP for approval.
AAUP is requesting that we change “students” to “graduate students” under the list of those who can become chapter members. Chapter members have voting privledges. Undergraduate students are welcome to attend meetings. We added a title to the document and dated the effective date of the ratification of the by-laws to be December 5, 2022. Here’s the updated version:
The AAUP Organizing Committee will meet during the week of March 3rd to evaluate the proposal.
Prof. Suzanne Jones wins lawsuit
Professor Suzanne Jones won her lawsuit against Collin College that had fired her for exercising her free speech and academic freedom. Prof. Jones has been reinstated at Collin College, which is a public community college district in the Dallas, Texas, area. A key finding by the court is that the President and Provost responsible for the illegal firing could be held personally and professionally accountable because they knowingly violated Prof. Jones’ Civil Rights.
VICTORY: Lawsuit ends with Collin College professor reinstated after being fired for union advocacy, supporting removal of Confederate monuments