(TRENTON) – Aiming to address decades of racial and ethnic disparities in higher education that contribute to further gaps in access to employment, housing and other opportunities, Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano and Mila Jasey sponsor legislation to require colleges and universities to take specific actions to promote diversity and inclusion among students and staff on campuses.
“Every college and university must commit to recruiting and uplifting a diverse student body,” said Quijano (D-Union). “By ensuring diverse students have access to and are represented in college enrollment, we are taking a critical step toward creating the institutional change needed to address racial disparities in higher education.”
The bill (A-5232) would require each public institution of higher education to develop a faculty and student diversity plan, which would establish clear and specific goals for increasing the recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and students for each academic program at the institution. The governing board of a college or university would designate a faculty diversity ambassador to ensure the implementation of the diversity plan which would be updated every three years as needed.
Higher education institutions would also be required to annually submit a student diversity report to the State Secretary of Higher Education. The report would include demographic analyses of students and recent graduates for each academic degree program, as well as a description of any targeted programs, services, or assistance offered by the school to support the education of students who represent diverse backgrounds.
“This bill requires institutions of higher education to not only understand what racial and ethnic disparities exist on their campuses, but take concrete action to combat them,” said Jasey (D-Essex, Morris). “Higher education can open doors to better employment, housing, health and social outcomes. When colleges recruit and retain a diverse student population, it creates more opportunities for all students reach their goals.”
Additionally, under the measure, higher education institutions would provide annual diversity training to all faculty, staff, and students who may serve on a faculty search committee that would outline specific interventions for unconscious bias in faculty recruitment. Institutions would also be required to increase the number of candidates considered for faculty positions who are of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups by measures established by the governing board.
The legislation now goes to the Assembly Speaker for further review.