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October 31, 2023

Rep. Aguilar Announces New Bipartisan Bill to Address Discrimination on University Campuses

Today, Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) announced at Cal State University, San Bernardino the introduction of the bipartisan Protecting Students’ Civil Rights Act to address discrimination and ensure racial equity on all college, university and trade school campuses. The legislation, co-led by Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR), would require all Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) to designate at least one employee to ensure compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in any program or activity that receives federal funding. Title VI coordinators would be responsible for submitting publicly accessible annual reports to the Department of Justice on any civil rights claims filed.

“University campuses are meant to be places of diversity and acceptance, where students from all backgrounds can pursue knowledge and personal growth,” said Rep. Aguilar. “In order for our students to receive the best quality education our universities have to offer, they must feel safe and accepted on their campuses. I’m proud to introduce the Protecting Students’ Civil Rights Act to ensure that any instances of race-based harassment or discrimination on college campuses are addressed quickly and effectively.”

“Over the last decades our nation has taken monumental steps to combat discrimination, including within our colleges and universities, but work remains to be done.  I’m proud to support the Protecting Students’ Civil Rights Act to require institutions of higher education to designate one employee to coordinate compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. This will ensure college campuses have the necessary processes in place to guarantee students, regardless of their background, can pursue their education free from discrimination and harassment,” said Rep. González-Colón.

Both the National Education Association and the California Community College Chancellor’s Office have endorsed the Protecting Students’ Civil Rights Act.

“Every student – no matter their race, place, or background – deserves to learn free of harassment and discrimination. But sadly, in too many colleges and institutions of higher education students have been left to defend themselves in the face of discrimination. That is why the National Education Association applauds Rep. Pete Aguilar for introducing the Protecting Students’ Civil Rights Act, which would help safeguard the civil rights of all students, ensuring that campuses remain places of learning with no room of harassment and discrimination,” said Marc Egan, Director of Government Relations of National Education Association.

“The California Community Colleges is devoted to building equity and to the protection of our students’ civil rights as they pursue their academic and career goals. Ensuring our campuses are free from discrimination and harassment is fundamental to the California Community Colleges and our Vision 2030, a framework centered on equity and the success of our students. On behalf of the California Community Colleges and our 1.8 million students, we are proud to support this effort to combat discrimination based on race, color, or national origin.  We are grateful to Rep. Aguilar for protecting our students,” said David O’Brien, Vice Chancellor of Government Relations of California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

Reps. Aguilar and González-Colón previously introduced the Protecting Students’ Civil Rights Act in the 117th Congress.