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October 25, 2021

Aguilar and González-Colón Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Civil Rights for Students

Reps. Pete Aguilar and Jenniffer González-Colón (R-Puerto Rico) announced the introduction of the Protecting Students’ Civil Rights Act, a bill to address racial inequity within American colleges and universities. The bill would require institutions of higher education to designate at least one employee to coordinate compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These coordinators would be responsible for reporting compliance with Title VI to the Secretary of Education. Under Title VI, institutions of higher education have a responsibility to address discrimination based on race, color, or national origin to guarantee their campuses are safe learning environments for every student.

“We have to take proactive steps to make higher education more accessible for students of all backgrounds. The institutions can help level the playing field and allow students of color and those from traditionally underserved communities to thrive in future careers, but only if we ensure that those students are given the opportunity to succeed free from harassment or discrimination. I’m proud to introduce this bill to make sure that every student from the Inland Empire and across the country can access a discrimination-free education,” said Aguilar.

“Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in programs or activities that receive federal funding.  Although much progress has been achieved to date, sadly we still find instances of such behavior throughout society, including within the education system.  In FY 2019, for example, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights received 2,660 complaints containing 3,673 allegations of discrimination in violation of Title VI.  It’s crucial our educational institutions have the necessary processes in place to address these instances, particularly our colleges and universities.  That’s why I’m proud to join Congressman Aguilar in introducing the Protecting Students’ Civil Rights Act, which would require each institution of higher education to designate one employee to coordinate compliance with Title VI,” said González-Colón.  

The bill also earned an early endorsement from the California Community Colleges.

“Protecting our students’ civil rights is critical to the equity mission of the California Community Colleges, and our Vision for Success. As we seek to close equity gaps, an essential first step is ensuring that students are not discriminated against on the basis of race, color, or national origin, and this legislation provides a vital tool to fight against that discrimination. We are pleased to support this effort on behalf of the California Community Colleges and our 2.1 million students. We thank Reps. Aguilar and González-Colón for protecting our students,” said Dr. Daisy Gonzales, California Community Colleges Acting Chancellor.

The Protecting Students’ Civil Rights Act has now been referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor.