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Some scholarships at Texas universities are frozen or revised after DEI bans

After the Texas Legislature passed a ban on diversity, equity, and inclusion (also known as DEI) programs, universities across the state have taken various steps to comply with the legislature's guidelines.

In addition to the degree programs and faculties at the universities, the scholarships are also affected. Many had to be changed or were frozen during the re-evaluation.

Marcela Rodrigues of the Dallas Morning News has been following this story. She spoke with Texas Standard about what is being studied and which grants are having the biggest impact. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity:

Texas Standard: So why are universities across Texas rethinking their scholarships?

Marcela Rodrigues: Many of these scholarships were specifically designed for people of a certain race or gender.

Some of them were specifically for women – for example, women studying engineering or women who are athletes. Some were specifically for Hispanic or black men. And so the new law in Texas prohibits programs that have to do with diversity, as well as programs that are specifically tailored to a race or gender.

Although scholarships were not originally part of the law, universities are reviewing these scholarships as well, and what we currently know is that many of them are on hold.

What reports have you found to find out what is happening at universities?

So we were able to get documents from legislators and universities. Some Democratic legislators have asked universities to report on what has changed in essence and what programs have been eliminated.

And through these documents, not only did we see that many centers and departments/divisions were closed and people were laid off and lost their jobs, but we also learned that there are over 100 scholarships across Texas – most of them from the Texas A&M system, many from the University of Texas system – that have been frozen, put on hold or modified. And the modified scholarships often involve removing the requirement that the scholarship be given to a specific person, gender or race.

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So does this only affect one type of scholarship, for example for sports, or rather academic scholarships?

Academic, athletic – all kinds of scholarships, as long as they are for a specific person.

A few examples we found were memorial scholarships. These are usually given when a family or community is trying to honor someone who has passed away. For example, in one case, we found two black female athletes who were tragically killed in a car accident. Their families came together and wanted to honor them and give them a scholarship, which by the way was funded by donations – not taxpayer money. And it was actually supposed to be dedicated to a female athlete who was interested in basketball. That's one of the scholarships that's currently on hold.

And so we're starting to hear from the universities. And they're telling us that there was a biotechnology scholarship at Texas A&M. And it was titled “diversity.” And so they took that part out to keep the scholarship.

So they're trying to take out the word “diversity” to comply with the law. So we're still trying to figure out how many have changed and how many can continue with some modification. But we're still waiting to see exactly how many will be affected in the long term.

What happens now with scholarships that cannot be changed?

I mean, we don't know. We're just waiting to see what happens.

I think many of the families who donate money to these scholarships are hoping that the scholarships can continue, hopefully with the conditions that were originally intended, but if not, they hope that they can still continue and continue to support students who need scholarships and financial aid to get to college.

However, we are not aware of any that have been completely eliminated. That remains to be seen.

Anna Harden

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