University of Texas at Austin students demanded their school reinstate a program supporting undocumented students on Monday, saying it was “wrongfully terminated” due to a state law.
Monarch, created in 2016 as a result of “student advocacy,” was among several programs impacted by Senate Bill 17, which went into effect Jan. 1 and banned DEI offices and programs at public colleges and universities across Texas.
Monarch provided resources, though not exclusively, for undocumented students, students with temporary status and from mixed-status families and U.S. families.
The university also ended a scholarship for students associated with the Monarch program. Every year, the scholarship awarded receipients $500 to $1,000.
According to The Dallas Morning News, the university sent a statement that the scholarship “potentially violates Texas’ new ban on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in state universities and colleges.”
A group of students released a statement claiming that SB17 should not have affected Monarch and calling for the university to “immediately reinstate” the program.
The students are part of a group called UT Rooted Collective, an “Immigrant Student Liberation Collective” and student-led initiative that supports and advocates for the undocumented student community.
Under SB 17, universities and colleges are prohibited from having programs that are limited to certain races, genders, or sexual orientations.
However, the UT Rooted Collective said that the Monarch program served students of all races, ethnicities, and genders.
Their statement said due to the closure of the program, undocumented students are now burdened to support themselves.
“UT Austin administration has not issued a statement regarding the closure of the Monarch program and explaining the decision. Furthermore, the decision occurred behind closed doors, suddenly, and without notice,” the student group said. “While all other offices and divisions at UT Austin received ample time to be in compliance with SB 17, the Monarch program was not given time to address any concerns from the UT administration or legal department.”
In addition to calling for the reinstatement of the program, the students demanded university leadership issue a statement that provides a rationale for the closure of the Monarch program as well as how the program was “implicated by SB 17.”
The students are currently working with local organizations to “fill the gap left by the closure of the Monarch program.”
UT officials did not immediately respond for comment.
Other student resources and activities were affected by SB 17, prompting pushback. UT’s Multicultural Engagement Center (MEC) was impacted and, as a result, discontinued the MEC’s Black Graduation, Latinx Graduation, and GraduAsian ceremonies.
SB 17 was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in June 2023, mandating all governing boards of public colleges and universities ensure their institutions prohibit the establishment and maintenance of a DEI office and the issue “DEI statements.”
The law mandates further that hiring practices and training are no longer able to use DEI statements.