LUBBOCK, Texas– What was formerly known as Texas Tech University’s Black Cultural Center told EverythingLubbock.com it was forced to go through a rebrand after Texas Senate Bill 17 was enforced on the campus.
The BCC opened in 2022 and was referred to as “a place of affirmation” by the former Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Carol Sumner, Ed.D. The center was created by a group of students on TTU’s campus and supported by the university.
However, the BCC, along with Texas Tech’s DEI and LGBTQIA offices, were disbanded at the beginning of the Fall 2023 semester due to the recent passing of SB 17.
SB 17 defined DEI offices as an office or division at an institution of higher education established for the purpose of influencing hiring or employment with “with respect to race, sex, color, or ethnicity, other than through the use of color-blind and sex-neutral hiring processes.” The bill also stated DEI offices provided “special benefits” to students on the basis of race, color or ethnicity.
What do some students think?
A Texas Tech student who benefited from TTU’s DEI resources called the disbandment terrifying.
“I felt like our state was going backwards. And they were trying to erase my identity, or the identity of black students or minority students,” the student said.
She explained DEI was used to ensure there was “a space for all individuals on campus, more specifically, it’s geared towards helping give opportunities [to] people who are systematically disadvantaged.”
The student went on to explain that organizations who received money from the DEI lost their funding. These organizations include the Black Student Association, the Hispanic Student Society and the National PanHellenic Council.
Texas lawmaker believes otherwise.
However, Texas lawmaker and Lubbock native, Representative Carl Tepper, believes DEI policies did more harm than good.
Representative Tepper, who sponsored SB 17, told EverythingLubbock.com DEI policies were being “weaponized against American values.” He also said DEI policies were examples of “self-segregation” and “reverse racism.”
Representative Tepper was asked about the recent changes made to Texas Tech’s Black Cultural Center, renamed “The Center.”
“I don’t think we should be segregated, and none of these buildings should be segregated by race, ethnicity, culture, you know, religion; they should be open to everyone,” Representative Tepper said.
University said it will support all students.
TTU President Lawrence Schovanec said on KAMC’s Talking Points back in April that recruiting diverse students, faculty, and staff has always been “instrumental in the growth of [the university.]” However, the university made the decision to end DEI practices due to some perceiving it as “exclusionary.”
The university released the following statement to EverythingLubbock.com regarding the recent disbandment of the DEI and LGBTQ+ offices on campus.
“Following the passage of Senate Bill 17 in the Texas State Legislature, Texas Tech University will no longer maintain a Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. The bill also forbids public institutions in Texas from ‘conducting trainings, programs, or activities designed or implemented in reference to race, color, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation…’ We will continue to support all our students by providing resources through Raider Success Hub, our 500 student organizations and other student services departments across campus.”Texas Tech University.