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Students hold sit-in at University of Texas board meeting

By Jake Holtzman

University of Texas students sit in at the Board of Regents meeting demanding th

Austin, TX – On Thursday, August 24, a group of around 13 students, workers and other members of the University of Texas (UT) community held a sit-in at the UT System Board of Regents fall semester meeting. The protesters were demanding that the board defend diversity, equity and inclusion programs, which have been under threat at public universities since the passing of Texas Senate Bill 17 in May.

Those leading the sit-in are members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Texas Students for DEI, and the Texas State Employees Union (TSEU).

Although the Board of Regents posted an agenda with an hour-long open session including time for public testimonies, the board rushed through this open session in just 12 minutes, quickly passing the motion to uphold the ban on diversity programs without any objection. They then proceeded to hold the bulk of the meeting behind closed doors.

This did not stop the protesters, however, who marched outside to hold a rally in the lobby where all the university presidents and upper administrators were talking and eating.

SDS member Ashley Awad said, “It is wild to see all of these administrators – who are supposed to listen to and protect the rights of students – ignoring our message and doing nothing to speak up against the ban on diversity programs.”

When asked if anyone would speak up in support of diversity, equity and inclusion programs, the university administrators looked down at their phones and stayed silent. The group of protesters began chanting, “Your silence is compliance, your silence is compliance” and “When DEI is under attack, what do we do? Stand up fight back!”

After the Board of Regents let people back inside for the end of the meeting, protesters confronted Board Chairman Kevin P. Eltife and UT Austin President Jay Hartzell. When asked why they have not acted in defense of diversity programs, both claimed they support “these issues” and walked away declining to give further comment.

#AustinTX #StudentsForADemocraticSociety