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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Campus protest continues against anti-DEI law SB 17

Aggie women’s org hosts demonstration at Rudder Plaza
Photo by Chris Swann
Demonstrators march across Military Walk during a protest against S.B.17 on Monday, March 25, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

Texas A&M women’s organization Aggie Rosies protested the passage of Texas Senate Bill 17, or SB 17, on March 25 at Rudder Plaza. 

Animal science junior Autumn Borowski, who serves as philanthropy executive for Aggie Rosies, organized the protest against the bill signed into law by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott that went into effect Jan. 1. 

“SB 17 prohibits state-funded universities and colleges from having Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, or DEI, offices and employees hired for DEI purposes,” Borowski said. “This bill is most commonly known on our campus for … closing our Office of Diversity and dissolving all of [the positions] there.”

Borowski said students should pay attention to this bill because it affects everyone at A&M.

“There are a multitude of students here, and an overwhelming number of us are minorities in some part of our identities,” Borowski said. “The banning of DEI with this bill impacts our education, access to resources and mental health. It exceeds what the students are able to access in terms of education and support resources.”

Demonstrators march past the Academic Building during a protest against S.B.17 on Monday, March 25, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion) (Photo by Chris Swann)

Sisterhood executive for Aggie Rosies, general studies freshman Belia Sanchez-Booth said this bill has only harmed students.

“Many students needed the LGBTQ center, and that became their safe zone,” Sanchez-Booth said. “Now that they no longer have that, they are forced to find elsewhere to go and belong whenever there is no one really representing them.”

Sanchez-Booth said the bill’s passing has only resulted in negative outcomes. 

“This bill invalidates a lot of our students,” Sanchez-Booth said. “Many of our students who belong to the community are getting everything ripped from them just because our local government doesn’t want to recognize them.” 

Despite the bill’s limits on university-run programs, Borowski said it has no control over what students can do.

“Since we are the individuals who need those resources that were removed by SB 17, we are the people who now have to provide those resources,” Borowski said. “It shouldn’t be our job to fend for our community’s support and resources on our campuses, where we live. However, from the bill, it is what we must do.” 

As president of Aggie Rosies, public health senior Allison Kemeny said she was protesting because she believes everyone deserves to be represented and supported throughout their education.

Demonstrators march across Military Walk during a protest against S.B.17 on Monday, March 25, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion) (Photo by Chris Swann)

“I feel that it is extremely necessary that if we feel there is something wrong or something that we don’t agree with, we should speak up about it, especially when it comes to DEI, which Rosies is really potent about,” Kemeny said. 

Biomedical sciences junior Madison Carr said she went to support her friends and others who are being directly affected by this bill. Carr serves as the service executive for Aggie Rosies.

“I think it is sad that this bill has caused us to regress rather than progress with society,” Carr said. “Before the bill, the diversity, inclusion and LGBTQ places on campus provided my friends a safe and supportive space that allowed them to feel welcome on a campus that used not to accept and be as welcoming.” 

Kemeny said from this protest she hopes to see a chain reaction with other campuses following their lead.

“I’m hoping that we’ll start a conversation that SB 17 is something we disagree with,” Kemeny said. “Maybe we can get a little more momentum, some more traction and see if this can become a state-wide initiative if other campuses are feeling the same pressure or they are also hoping to see a change in this bill.” 

After the protest, Borowski said she hopes the protest will help pave the way for a continued fight against the bill. 

“I want the moment from the protest to continue,” Borowski said. “I want people to keep speaking out against the bill. I hope to find loopholes around the bill itself.  We as students can do things even though the university itself might not be able to.”

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About the Contributor
Stacy Cox
Stacy Cox, News Writer
Stacy Cox is a freshman majoring in Sociology, minoring in Women & Gender Studies and earning a certificate in Legal History. Stacy is from New Braunfels, Texas, and she started writing for The Battalion in November 2023. After graduation, Stacy intends to earn a law degree and pursue a career in law and public service.
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  • T

    Tom Urban ‘85Mar 28, 2024 at 3:31 pm

    It is great to see student activists fighting the good fight for equality and diversity. Texas A&M has a terrible history of fighting progress. This time it is the state legislature and governor who are backwards. Just always remember that the arc of history bends toward justice even if it takes a few detours.

  • D

    DebMar 28, 2024 at 3:23 pm

    Good story!