The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

US Social Impact Bazaar
News
US Social Impact Bazaar
Mary Bradley Sutherland, Photo and Graphic Editor • April 18, 2024

HockaDance Spring Concert 2024
Arts + Life
HockaDance Spring Concert 2024
Mary Bradley Sutherland, Photo and Graphic Editor • April 17, 2024

The first track meet in more than 30 years was March 22.
Sports
Daisies host first track meet in 30 years
Callie Coats and Mary Elise EstessApril 16, 2024

Callie Coats and Mary Elise Estess are reporters in Intro to Journalism.  They covered the Split H Relays on March 22.

Committed seniors pose in front of their respective college banners.
Senior Signing Day
April 12, 2024
StuCo steps up
StuCo steps up
April 12, 2024

The DEI Divide

Texas Ban on DEI offices in public universities goes into effect
The DEI Divide

State Senate Bill 17, which imposes a state ban on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) offices, initiatives and training at Texas public universities and colleges, went into effect Jan. 1.  

The bill was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in June, after successfully making its way through the Texas House and Senate. Though Texas’ new law bans DEI offices, it does not affect student organizations, academic courses or student admissions. 

Over the years, DEI offices have developed into a pillar for colleges and universities across the U.S., with efforts to amplify campus diversity and ensure success for all students. DEI offices have a wide range of functions: they organize programs to aid underserved or marginalized students professionally, search for diverse faculty candidates, and create initiatives and centers that benefit LGBTQ+ students, ethnic and racial minorities, and students with disabilities.  

According to the Texas Tribune, when laying out his version of the Senate bill on the House floor, Representative John Kuempel stated that there is scarcely any proof that DEI initiatives have bridged the gap in minority student achievements or the recruitment of minorities. Additionally, critics accuse DEI programs of disseminating left-wing ideology onto students and faculty and argue that such programs emphasize inclusivity and diversity over merit and achievement. They further argue that the elimination of these programs would result in millions in taxpayer savings. 

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Yet, Texas students and faculty members have resisted these efforts, asserting that DEI offices and initiatives should be retained to enhance the inclusion and success of all people on campus. Some critics have stressed that without university sponsorship, an overwhelming responsibility will fall onto students to plan DEI-related events.  

Dr. Tracey Tevis, the Director of DEI at Hockaday, said that attending a small, private institution made her fall in love with DEI work, and it’s disheartening to know that students may not have the same opportunity that she did. She believes that DEI enhances the sense of welcomeness students feel and has since added a B at the end of DEI for belonging. However, she also believes people are entitled to their own opinions. 

“The wonderful part about DEIB is that we’re not trying to make you necessarily change your mind,” Tevis said. “Part of it’s about hearing a person’s perspective and understanding where that person is coming from.” 

In addition, Tevis said she thinks it’s also important to look at DEI offices through a holistic lens and realize that they go beyond benefitting people of color. 

“Being around people with diverse cultures, not just racial, but religions and socio-economic location, increases creativity, critical thinking skills and helps you learn how to have that civil discourse,” Tevis said. “The goal with a DEIB office is to make sure that we are equipping you all with the skills needed to become global citizens after graduation.” 

Tevis emphasized that DEI is not just achieved by one person, but rather, it takes the work of all. She hopes students will listen to both sides of the argument regarding DEI by reading books, listening to podcasts, and talking to friends to formulate their own opinions. 

“I highly encourage you all to go to things like the Dallas Area Diversity Youth Organization and go to college and independent school websites and see what these offices offer,” Tevis said. 

Seniors Ashley Chemmalakuzhy, head of Student Diversity Board (SDB), and Leila Tarighi, president of Affinity Council, represent student DEI interests at Hockaday and have their own perspectives on SB17.  

Chemmalakuzhy said SDB promotes DEI primarily through conversation-based activities on current events in forums and “Chit Chats.”  Their goal is to make students reflect on their identities and understand how this shapes their outlooks on global or national issues.  Like Dr. Tevis, she emphasized the impact of the feeling of belonging that goes alongside DEI, and how this is an integral part of any school or university.  

“Having discussions makes people a lot more aware about their identities and how that influences their daily life and perspectives,” Chemmalakuzhy said. “Bringing identity into the forefront and making it a part of conversation enriches the Hockaday community, and makes people think about inclusivity and belonging and how we can best promote that.”  

Tarighi leads Affinity Council representatives through a variety of initiatives and by addressing student issues, ensuring everyone’s identity is represented at Hockaday. This year, Tarighi, has worked to create a Prayer Room and publish bi-monthly newsletters. She believes that Affinity Council’s DEI work transcends into the larger student body to create an uplifting environment.  

“With Affinity Council, it’s about sitting at a round table, putting a face to an identifier and feeling like we are all working together in tandem on these really deep issues,” Tarighi said.  “As a board, we’ve aimed to curate a compassionate and empowering environment, even within an emotionally tiring space like school. It’s important to create safe spaces where students feel comfortable and confident within their identifier.” 

With their leadership experience at Hockaday, both Tarighi and Chemmalakuzhy believe that DEI offices are necessary at public universities and strongly disagree with Abbot’s most recent law. Though Tarighi believes student-based DEI work will continue to thrive, efforts won’t be as productive or united without strong administrative support. She expressed that such student organizations will be somewhat restricted to their own microcosm of work and explained that while Hockaday’s DEI office was temporarily absent, Affinity Council couldn’t make as much progress on their goals.  

“I still think there will be affinity groups and initiatives on college campuses, but there won’t be a sense of connection between each of them,” Tarighi said.  “There’s no working together, collective effort or administrative backing; everyone will be working in their own bubble and isolated and we will lose a lot of the necessary ingredients in creating an equitable space.”  

Chemmalakuzhy emphasized that the DEI ban has vast implications for college students – which go beyond life at university. She said that not only will this law diminish students’ sense of belonging, embracing of their differences and exchanging perspectives at college, but that such an educational experience will translate to when graduates enter the real world, in a negative way.   

“As we’re educating our youth to go out into the world, a lot of what they’re going to do stems from what they’ve learned,” Chemmalakuzhy said. “DEI needs to be considered in the larger global context of how we are going to account for each other and accommodate each other as we’re all just living and working together.” 

Chemmalakuzhy said that SDB’s goal is to embrace a wide range of viewpoints, making their activities an area to exchange ideas rather than a battleground for persuasion. Dr. Tevis reinforced Chemmalakuzhy’s stance, expressing that an aspect of DEI offices involves offering understanding to everyone, including individuals who might be skeptical or opposed to the principles of DEI.

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About the Contributors
Melody Tian
Melody Tian, Jade Editor
Alexandra Dassopoulos
Alexandra Dassopoulos, Staff Writer, Assistant Arts & Life editor

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