Rep. Jim Banks: Anti-DEI bill is the first step to 'reform or replace the accreditation cartel'

Republican Indiana Rep. Jim Banks wrote an op-ed in The American Mind about the “Fairness in Higher Education Accreditation Act,” calling it “just the beginning” of the fight against what he calls the “accreditation cartel.”

The bill, which Banks and Florida Rep. Greg Steube introduced on June 6, aims to block consideration of DEI policies in higher education as criteria for educational accreditation. Florida Senator Marco introduced the bill in the Senate the week prior.

[RELATED: Republican senators introduce bill to ban DEI requirements for university accreditation]

Banks formed the House Anti-Woke Caucus in January to root out “wokeness from the federal government and American public life,” and one of his first areas of focus has been higher education. “The university system is a target-rich environment for our caucus, and the higher education accreditation cartel has helped make colleges a source and stronghold of wokeness,” he said. 

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation, which recognizes six major accreditation organizations and represents over 6,000 U.S. colleges and universities, instituted its first requirement in support of DEI in January 2021, although many other accreditation organizations have older policies. 

The bill would outlaw such requirements, as it would ban the consideration of “diversity, equity and inclusion policies of an institution of higher education” and “the racial composition of accepted applicants, students, or the faculty or staff of an institution of higher education,” or affirmative action. 

However, Banks emphasized that such a measure would only prevent the one-sided campus environment from being further incentivized by law and federal bureaucracy. More would need to be done to counteract the current issues of wokeness on the campus. “[W]e must be positively pro-American,” he said. 

Banks said he hopes the bill will protect conservative voices on campus, who he pointed out are outnumbered 9:1 on college campuses, by replacing the consideration of affirmative action and DEI initiatives by accreditors with the consideration of commitment to freedom of inquiry. 

“Speech suppression is anti-American and contributes to the overwhelmingly leftist tilt of our higher education system,” Banks said. “Before universities consider discriminating against right-of-center faculty, they will remember that their accreditation depends on tolerating all political speech.”

[RELATED: Loyola Marymount president blasts DeSantis in op-ed, praises woke students for ‘indoctrinating us’]

Banks made it clear that this was only the first step of addressing wokeness and fixing the educational system. “The Fairness in Higher Education Accreditation Act is just the beginning of what I hope will be a concerted campaign to reform or replace the accreditation cartel,” he said. 

Campus Reform has contacted Banks’s office for comment and will update this story accordingly.