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Senate bill would block accreditors from weighing DEI, affirmative action policies

Senate bill would block accreditors from weighing DEI, affirmative action policies

Higher Ed Dive

Laura Spitalniak
June 6, 2023
Higher education accreditors would not be able to consider a college’s policies on affirmative action or diversity, equity and inclusion during the accreditation process, under a new bill from a leading Republican senator.
Introduced by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the legislation aims to protect free speech on college campuses and “prevent a politicized [U.S.] Department of Education from further forcing diversity, equity, and inclusion policies into higher education,” according to a news release.
It’s not uncommon for accrediting agencies to include language around diversity and inclusion in their evaluation processes.
For example, the Higher Learning Commission, an accreditor largely focused on the Midwest, considers if a college’s “processes and activities demonstrate inclusive and equitable treatment of diverse populations,” according to its criteria for accreditation.
Similarly, accreditation standards from the New England Commission of Higher Education says colleges should foster “an inclusive atmosphere within the institutional community that respects and supports people of diverse characteristics and backgrounds.”
Neither HLC nor NECHE immediately responded to questions about the proposed legislation Monday.
Cynthia Jackson-Hammond, president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, an accreditor industry group, called the bill an overstep and said it could undermine the higher education sector.
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