MOVE Texas Condemns Senate Subcommittee’s Exclusion of Student Voices, Stands Against SB 17 and in Solidarity with Students Protesting Genocide

AUSTIN, TX–– Today, the Texas Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education hosted a hearing to discuss new policies on antisemitism, free speech, and compliance with the state’s ban on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs. MOVE Texas Action Fund strongly condemns the exclusion of student voices from the first panels of invited testimonies. For over six hours, testimony was restricted to select, one-sided panelists, excluding the broader community, and crucially, the students who have traveled from across the state and have been waiting to testify since early hours of the morning to ensure their voices are heard. It is unacceptable that the very individuals most impacted by these policies—students—are not given a platform to share their on campus perspectives and experiences.

In response, MOVE Texas Action Fund issued the following statement: 

“We firmly stand against the harmful impacts of Senate Bill (SB) 17 and any efforts to dismantle DEI initiatives. The importance of DEI programs cannot be overstated. These initiatives are crucial in fostering inclusive and equitable educational environments where all students, regardless of their race, class, or background, can thrive. SB 17, which has already been signed by our extremist Governor Greg Abbott into law, is a direct attack on the progress we have made in creating diverse and supportive campuses.

MOVE Texas also condemns the aggressive police presence during recent campus protests in solidarity with Palestine. These demonstrations, led by students advocating for justice and human rights, should not be met with intimidation and physical force. The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental aspect of our democracy, and students must be allowed to express their solidarity without fear of retaliation. 

There is a troubling trend that conflates antisemitism and opposition to the genocide in Palestine as one in the same. We denounce any attempt to disparage this cause and silence the voices of young people. Antisemitism is a serious issue that must be addressed, but using it as a pretext to stifle free speech, political expression, and malign those who oppose genocide and believe in justice for Palestine is a violation of students’ constitutional rights and an insult to their moral integrity.  Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of higher education and democracy. Student movements have historically guided the country out of the darkest times and continue to provide a moral compass for the world to follow. Students must be able to engage in political discourse without undue restrictions.

The struggle for justice and equality is interconnected across our communities, here and abroad. Efforts to suppress DEI programs, stifle political expression, and intimidate student activists are part of a broader attempt to maintain systems of power and inequality in Texas. We must stand together to challenge these injustices and ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn, speak, and advocate for a better world.

MOVE Texas remains committed to supporting students, defending DEI programs, and advocating for policies that promote equity and justice in our educational institutions. We call on lawmakers to listen to the voices of the largest and most engaged electorate and to recognize the importance of creating inclusive, equitable, and democratic communities for all.”

Read our full organizational testimony here.