Republican Senators Propose Eliminating DEI Considerations in University Accreditation

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Republican lawmakers introduced legislation this week that seeks to ban higher education accrediting agencies from considering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in their accreditation processes.

Under the “Fairness in Higher Education Accrediting Act,” proposed by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), colleges and universities would not be evaluated based on their “DEI and affirmative action policies, or lack thereof,” according to a press release.

The legislation was co-sponsored by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and. Rick Scott (R-FL).

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation, which represents more than 6,000 U.S. colleges and universities and recognizes six major U.S. regional accreditors, adopted a DEI standard for accrediting agencies in early 2022. Since then, many of the 69 accreditation organizations that the U.S. Department of Education recognizes have implemented new requirements or strengthened existing standards on DEI.

However, recent legislation in multiple states targeting DEI in higher education has raised concerns over how institutions will remain in compliance with accreditation standards. Such concerns led to Florida’s SB 266 being rewritten to remove any direct references to DEI, The Tampa Bay Times reports.

Rubio’s bill is the latest in more than 30 anti-DEI bills introduced this year. If passed, Rubio stated the legislation would “prevent a politicized Department of Education from further forcing diversity, equity, and inclusion policies into higher education.”