Republican senators introduce bill to ban DEI requirements for university accreditation

Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the “Fairness in Higher Education Accrediting Act” last week.

The bill bans Institution of Higher Education accrediting agencies from pushing DEI requirements in accrediting schools

A group of Republican Senators introduced legislation on June 1 to curtail DEI policies in higher education.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the “Fairness in Higher Education Accrediting Act,” which would restrict Institution of Higher Education (IHE) accrediting agencies from considering a university’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policies, or lack thereof, as part of the accreditation process. Senators Rick Scott (R-FL) and Mike Lee (R-UT) co-sponsored the bill. The Daily Caller News Foundation originally obtained the text of the bill.

The bill states that “as part of the accrediting process, such an agency or association shall not consider— 

  • (A) the diversity, equity, and inclusion policies of an institution of higher education;

  • (B) the racial composition of the accepted applicants, students, or the faculty or staff, of 25 an institution of higher education.”

Instead of DEI policies or composition, the bill says accrediting agencies must take into account “success in ensuring a right of free inquiry.” Public institutions would be required to abide by the First Amendment, in addition to the particular university’s commitment to academic freedom. Private colleges must adhere to their written policies regarding academic freedom.

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The bill also provides that higher education institutions that are denied or lose their accreditation as a result of an accrediting agency violating the law would be entitled to sue the agency.

“Wokeness should not be mandatory,” Rubio told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “I am proud to introduce the Fairness in Higher Education Accreditation Act, which would protect free speech on college campuses and seeks to prevent a politicized Department of Education from further forcing diversity, equity and inclusion policies into higher education.”

“We need to make sure that no school is judged based on whether a DEI agenda is used,” Scott added. “What we care about in Florida is academic success so students can get great jobs after graduation. That’s why our state has been ranked #1 for higher education by U.S. News & World Report for six years running. I am proud to sponsor the Fairness in Higher Education Accreditation Act  to bring needed accountability to our colleges and universities.”

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“This crucial legislation serves as a beacon of accountability, ensuring we don’t subject universities to undue pressure to adopt divisive DEI policies,” added Lee. “It safeguards against manipulating the accreditation process to advance ideological agendas. By requiring accreditors to examine a school’s compliance with the First Amendment, we reinforce the bedrock values of our republic. This legislation will promote excellence in education and protect the free exchange of ideas on university campuses.”

Campus Reform reached out to Senators Rubio, Scott, and Lee. This article will be updated accordingly.