Lawmaker Wants Eye on Discrimination at Universities

A budget amendment from San Antonio state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer will seek better accounting of discrimination complaints at universities, specifically cases involving fraternities and sororities.

State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio.

In the wake of reports of hazing and racial discrimination in higher education nationwide, state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, has filed an amendment to the House budget that would place Texas fraternities and sororities under additional state scrutiny. 

The amendment stipulates that all incidents of gender, ethnic or racial discrimination at a university involving its students — on or off campus — would have to be reported to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. If the incident involved a student organization, that would have to be reported as well. Fischer's amendment specifies "fraternal or sorority organizations or athletic teams" as examples of student organizations. 

The coordinating board will compile the information so lawmakers can have access to it.

“Nationally you’ve seen a series of stories regarding instances of racial discrimination or racially motivated on goings on college campuses and universities," Martinez Fischer said. "This amendment will empower the higher education coordinating board to assess that information, ascertain that data, and let us know." 

The rider also requires universities to report complaints of racial insensitivity, with the information compiled by the coordinating board and reported to the Legislature. Martinez Fischer has filed the amendment in advance of House debate on its version of the state budget, set to begin Tuesday.

Fraternities have been under greater scrutiny, both in the public eye and the press, since a video surfaced online of University of Oklahoma Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members singing racial slurs and referencing lynching

At the University of Texas at Austin earlier this year, students protested over a themed party at the Texas Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. The Daily Texan reported guests saying the party was "border control" themed, but the fraternity told the student paper the party was "western themed."

More recently, a University of Houston fraternity was suspended following "disturbing allegations of hazing."

Aman Batheja contributed to this report.