Texas A&M System Guidance on Senate Bill 17General (Ret.) Mark A. Welsh III
September 7, 2023
Members of the Aggie Family,
As you are aware, the 88th Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 17 (S.B. 17) during its regular session to prohibit diversity, equity and inclusion offices and initiatives at public universities, effective Jan. 1, 2024. On Aug. 16, The Texas A&M University System approved revisions to System Policy 08.01, which provides the framework for System members’ implementation of the requirements of S.B. 17. Since then, the System has released a set of frequently asked questions to further guide the university’s implementation of S.B. 17.
As previously shared, the university will ensure full compliance of S.B. 17 by Jan. 1, 2024. We are currently taking the following initial actions:
- Staff members previously supporting the Office for Diversity have been reassigned, and this office is closed.
- Hiring practices and required training are being updated, where applicable, to align with official guidance.
- University policies and related documents are undergoing revisions to ensure compliance.
S.B. 17 and System Policy 08.01 exempt the following activities:
- Academic course instruction;
- An employee or student’s scholarly research or creative work;
- An activity of a student organization registered with or recognized by a member institution;
- A guest speaker or performer on a short-term engagement;
- Policies, practices, procedures, programs or activities to enhance student academic achievement or post-graduate outcomes without regard to race, sex, color or ethnicity;
- Data collection; and
- Student recruitment or admissions.
In general, university programs cannot be exclusive to one identified group. They must be open to everyone and need to be supported in a consistent manner.
How we implement this law is equally important to our following it, and it will require all of us working together. Over the next few months, I, along with the vice presidents and deans, will determine additional changes to ensure compliance with the law and communicate them to the university community. In the meantime, I ask that you continue to work within your leadership structure to send forward questions that need further clarification.
Just to be clear, at Texas A&M, we will continue to maintain a welcoming environment for all, and we will continue to appreciate, respect and harness the unique perspectives each of you bring to this institution. Diversity of thought is a cornerstone of great universities, and quite frankly, it’s a key ingredient to our continued success. Implementation of S.B. 17 will not change that. Leaning into our core values, we will implement these changes, focusing on our most important roles as educators and researchers, serving our students and this great state. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to this mission.
General (Ret.) Mark A. Welsh III, Interim President