Arlington, Texas: Students demand administration take steps to support diversity programs
Arlington, TX – On Wednesday, March 22, the Progressive Student Union rallied over 60 students and community members at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) student center to protest the pause of diversity, equity and inclusion policies on campus. The students also rallied against bills that the Texas legislature recently proposed which seek to forbid transgender athletes from competing in events with accordance to their gender identity, and ban critical race theory and diversity, equity and inclusion policies in higher education.
Student speakers explained how the banning of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies hurt underrepresented communities and asked why the university has not taken action to defend policies that protect and advocate for diversity on campus.
After an hour of speeches and chanting, students marched to the administrative offices to pre-sent a list of three demands that call for, first, a statement from university President Jennifer E. Cowley’s office against proposed Texas legislation that would ban DEI policies in higher education, exclude trans women from college sports, and forbid the teaching of critical race theory; second, a plan for how the university would resist implementation of these Texas state legislature policies, including regular meetings with the PSU and other affected student groups or and university bodies; and third, action by the university to address its racist history, such as changing building names and removing memorials which honor racists.
As the students marched to the president’s office, they held banners and chanted, “Stop attacks on diversity programs” and “Diversity is not a prop, these attacks have got to stop!” The spirited march drew the attention of many students and staff present.
Students entered President Cowley’s office to present their list of demands, but were informed that the president was not there, and that they could leave a message on her phone line. President Cowley was in Austin with the university’s student government and other student representatives for a day of lobbying at the state capitol.
After several attempts to ask if the staff could contact her directly, PSU members decided to stage a sit-in in the office while calling to flood the president's phone line. Students and community members left voicemails listing their demands and grievances. During the sit-in, members were harassed by staff members. After two hours, the sit-in concluded, and all protesters slowly exited the office and left the building.
Progressive Student Union (PSU) members told Fight Back! that they felt a sense of accomplishment because they were able to get the attention of the student body and remind the administration that they serve the students. “This is just the beginning of the student movement's campaign to fight these attacks. This event demonstrates the power and resilience of PSU and other student and community organizations that are pushing for change,” said Jay Rodriguez, secretary of PSU. “It's the first of many more demonstrations that will continue to challenge far-right legislators and school administrations. The fight is going to be a long and hard one, but we at PSU are daring to struggle so that we all dare to win!”