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Accreditation: campus diversity rule fails in southern US states

Accreditation: campus diversity rule fails in southern US states

Times Higher Education

Paul Basken
December 29, 2023
The lone major US accrediting agency to lack a formal requirement on diversity has acknowledged that its member institutions – largely covering the southern part of the nation – are too stuck on the question to move it forward any time soon.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (Sacs), after an annual gathering, has put aside the question for at least another five years, said its president, Belle Wheelan.
The inertia is not necessarily surprising in a region with states – especially Texas and Florida – where elected leaders have made clear they do not welcome universities actively promoting racial diversity. Yet some Sacs member institutions held out the possibility of putting the question to a vote, only to have Sacs conduct a poll that showed a majority in opposition.
“We were prepared for that motion to come forward, but it didn’t,” Dr Wheelan said.
US universities have been through a tumultuous year on the topic of boosting the racial diversity of their students and faculty towards levels that reflect the nation’s overall population after the US Supreme Court generally forbade the use of racial preferences in college admissions.
The Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, has made his assaults on racial equity a cornerstone of his bid for the US presidency in 2024. Other states in the traditional Sacs region that embrace that ideology include Texas, where lawmakers have set a January deadline for ending diversity, equity and inclusion offices and initiatives at public universities.
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