Cassidy’s bipartisan bill reinforces civil rights of higher ed students

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) on Jan. 11 sponsored a bipartisan bill that would improve awareness of how college and university students should report alleged civil rights violations due to their heritage. 

“No student should be harassed or attacked at school just because of who they are,” said Sen. Cassidy, ranking member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “This legislation holds colleges and universities accountable and ensures discrimination against students is never ignored.” 

The Protecting Students on Campus Act of 2024, S. 3580, which is cosponsored by U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), would ensure that colleges and universities receiving federal funds properly inform students about their right to file discrimination complaints with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR).

The legislation also would provide accountability to ensure institutions and the OCR properly investigate alleged discrimination and maintain a safe learning environment for all students, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Cassidy’s staff. 

“Diversity is our strength as a country. No student should face hostility or violence for who they are, what they look like, where they’re from, or what they believe,” said Sen. Fetterman. “Amid a despicable rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia in our country, I am proud to introduce this bill with my colleague Sen. Cassidy to empower students facing discrimination to take action and hold universities accountable in protecting students.” 

If enacted, S. 3580 would require colleges and universities to post noticeable links and language on their main webpages on how to file a Title VI discrimination complaint, including accessible links to the OCR’s complaint website, the summary says.

Additionally, the bill would ensure institutions that receive federal funding properly handle discrimination complaints, and require colleges and universities to report the number of civil rights complaints they receive and the actions they took to address the complaints, among other provisions. 

The measure has been referred to the Senate HELP Committee for consideration.