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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Opinion: Quality education at Texas public universities is in danger

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Senate Bills 16 and 18 directly attack academic freedom in college classrooms. Both bills are currently among Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s top legislative priorities.
According to the Texas Tribune, Senate Bill 16 will work to prohibit any college or professor from compelling a student to adopt specific political beliefs. The bill is heading to the House after being approved by the Senate. Senate Bill 18 will ban offering tenure to any professors starting Sept. 1.
If both bills pass, we can expect to see a change in Texas universities’ operations. The proposed legislation has the potential to harm both faculty and students alike.
Academic tenure, first formally introduced in 1940, protects academic freedom in higher education. It ensures that professors can pursue research and not lose their jobs due to speech, publications or research findings. The road to tenure is difficult, but the benefits outweigh the costs.
Tenure provides universities with a sense of stability. When faculty members hold their position for long periods, they form bonds with students and the university itself. Students may also take comfort in academic tenure as they can be sure they receive education from high-quality professors.
Patrick stated last February that because tenured professors have substantial job security, they can “hide behind the phrase ‘academic freedom'” and “poison” students’ minds. SB 18 was created with the idea that removing tenure would prevent universities from being “taken over” by leftist professors.
This bill could cause an exodus of professors at Texas universities. With less freedom in the classroom and no job security, professors will seek better job opportunities in other states. The bill would also make it increasingly more work for universities to recruit faculty, which will affect the reputation of these institutions.
With the loss of top faculty, students will begin to rethink applying to schools in Texas. The erasure of tenure could lead to students needing more exposure to diverse ideas and academic philosophies. If students know they can receive a more well-rounded education at an out-of-state school, they will no longer want to apply to Texas universities.
SB 16 will further these ideas. The bill’s language is overly vague and can potentially instill fear in faculty and students. Lawmakers argue that this bill is solely about professors attempting to indoctrinate their own certain beliefs in students, but what does this mean?
This bill is one small step away from complete censorship in Texas university classrooms. Professors will limit what they discuss in lectures because they fear violating the bill. Students will begin to ask fewer questions. Overall, quality conversations in Texas lecture halls will be a thing of the past.
Patrick explained that SB 16 would ban critical race theory (CRT) in higher education. Again, the bill’s wording is vague so critical race theory is not explicitly outlined. Still, it is clear that one of the main goals is to eliminate any conversation surrounding it.
CRT is the idea that race is inherently a social construct and that racism is embedded into our legal systems. In 2021, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill allowing the teaching of this theory to be banned in K-12 classrooms. Republican lawmakers believe CRT is propaganda against white people and has no place in schools.
These ideals brought into Texas universities pose an even higher threat to honest and accurate conversations. Censorship in college classrooms should not be a discussion. Students pay thousands of dollars for the highest quality education possible; they deserve to learn the whole truth.
SB 16 and 18 are harmful and unnecessary. Texas lawmakers have no right to strip away job security and academic freedom; these should be a given.
– Rhian Davis is a journalism freshman
The University Star welcomes Letters to the Editor from its readers. All submissions are reviewed and considered by the Editor-in-Chief and Opinions Editor for publication. Not all letters are guaranteed for publication.

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