SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Lawmakers in the Oregon House have approved a bill that would require public universities and community colleges to respect people from all cultures, races and sexual orientations.
The lawmakers spoke, at times emotionally, on Wednesday about the state's racist history, about continuing discrimination, and about their desire for inclusiveness.
The bill, which passed by a 45-15 vote and now goes to the Senate, aims to have institutions of higher learning achieve "cultural competency," which means responding respectfully and effectively to people from all walks of life.
Each public institution must provide oversight for cultural competency standards.
News release from Oregon House Democrats
House Votes to Create Cultural Competency Standards
SALEM – Oregon’s public universities and community colleges moved one step closer today to creating cultural competency standards for their institutions, employees and students.
The aim of House Bill 2864, which passed off the floor with a vote of 45-15, is to create campuses and learning experiences that are more inclusive and more reflective of all communities in Oregon. The bill requires each community college and public university in Oregon to establish a cultural competency oversight committee and requires a process for recommending and overseeing implementation of cultural competency standards for schools and their employees.
Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon (D-Woodburn) was the co-chief sponsor of the bill with Rep. Chris Gorsek (D-Troutdale).
“As a lifelong advocate for increasing access to education, I am passionate about making sure that students are able to engage in their education in a meaningful way,” Rep. Alonso Leon said. “I have heard from many students in our public universities and community colleges who have had experiences that make them feel other-ized, dismissed, unwelcome, and at times even unsafe in their schools.”
“I am hopeful that this bill will help our students feel safe, welcomed, and included in our schools,” Rep. Alonso Leon added.
While many colleges and universities throughout the state are already engaged in this important work, the bill provides a universal framework and direction for the creation of cultural competency standards.
“This important legislation will help move our colleges and universities forward in the area of equity and inclusion,” Rep. Gorsek said. “I was proud to work with Rep. Alonso Leon and the many sponsors of this bill to ensure that every Oregon student feels welcomed in their classrooms.”
The bill now heads to the Senate.