Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

DCCE changes have no effect on curriculum, disability services despite misinformed concerns

Atahan Koksoy
The UT Tower on September 4, 2023.

Recent changes made by the University in response to Senate Bill 17, like the closure of the Division of Campus and Community Engagement, sparked confusion over the fate of several programs and academic departments on campus. The Daily Texan has clarified which DCCE programs are impacted and the law’s effects on curriculum.

President Jay Hartzell announced the closure of the DCCE on April 2, resulting in about 50 related layoffs, according to Hartzell, and the discontinuation of several affiliated programs. For the 17 years it served UT,  the DCCE integrated “access and belonging into the University’s core mission,” according to its website. Many of its programs provided spaces and resources for LGBTQ+ students, students with disabilities and students from different cultural backgrounds. 

Alongside the announcement, the University published a matrix showing where organizations previously housed under the DCCE are moving. The matrix names only the programs that are staying; however, it is unclear whether programs not listed will stay or be cut at this time, according to a University spokesperson.   

Programs not listed in the matrix include the Women’s Community Center, the Student Organization Co-Sponsorship Program, Longhorns for Engagement, Access and Development, or LEAD, the Center for Access and Restorative Engagement, or CARE, the Texas Grants Resource Center, the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Global Leadership and Social Impact. 

The DCCE’s closure instigated new confusion about what exactly SB 17 affects. Crystal Tran, UT alumna and coalition member of Texas Students for DEI, said she’s heard misinformed comments from other students about the fate of academic curriculum and disability services, neither of which the bill affects.

The matrix did not include the Disability Cultural Center until April 19. The matrix now includes the Center. 

Tran said students need to better understand the exact language of SB 17 to avoid spreading rumors and creating unnecessary chaos. 

“As somebody who uses disability services, if I didn’t know what the law meant and I heard (disability services were being cut), I would be devastated,” Tran said. “That is a wholly unnecessary infliction of emotional distress.”

Lauren Gutterman, associate professor of American studies and women’s, gender and sexuality studies, said SB 17 has no effect on academic instruction, course content or research. While Gutterman has not changed how she conducts her classes, she said the University’s poor communication about SB 17 left many faculty confused on what they can and cannot teach. 

“It’s really important to me that I fight and resist those feelings of fear and anxiety that sometimes lead people to self-censor in anticipation of what they believe, where the law could go next, or what they feel might upset conservative lawmakers,” Gutterman said. 

Gutterman said in addition to the bill’s chilling effect on faculty, many of her colleagues felt internal discouragement from the University about teaching certain subjects or using language in their course titles that could “attract attention from conservative lawmakers.” 

Gutterman said she’s also noticed discouragement among her students since the DCCE announcement. 

“In general, students I’ve encountered are really disheartened, really angry and feel really betrayed by the University to see programs and services that they believed (they could) count on to be there to support them in the future … disappear,” Gutterman said.

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About the Contributor
Sarah Brager, General News Reporter
Sarah is a journalism junior from Buda, Texas. She's currently a senior news reporter, and she previously worked as a life and arts reporter and an opinion columnist. When she's not reporting for the Texan, Sarah loves hiking, drinking outrageous amounts of coffee and doing crossword puzzles.