Oregon higher ed task force would focus on underrepresented students


In Oregon, legislators are considering a bill to create a task force to focus on helping underrepresented student groups succeed in college.

A joint subcommittee unanimously approved House Bill 2590, sending it to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Ways and Means, Meerah Powell of Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Monday.

The task force would focus on several demographics. Including students of color, LGBTQ students, rural students and low-income students. The Senate president and House speaker would appoint a panel of legislators to “meet with faculty, staff and community partners who support underrepresented students in their work,” Powell reported.

“This is giving our students an opportunity to provide feedback and make our public postsecondary higher ed institutions more accessible, more affordable and ensure that all of our students, especially our underrepresented students are reflected in the way that we do higher ed,” a co-sponsor, Rep. Teresa Alonso, Leon, D-Woodburn, said at a recent committee hearing, according to Powell.

The move at the Oregon statehouse comes as conservative Idaho lawmakers have actively criticized diversity and inclusion efforts on campus.

Colleges and universities across the nation are struggling to stave off enrollment losses during the pandemic. Idaho’s public college and university enrollment dropped by more than 4,000 students from fall to spring, and many colleges have struggled to attract rural students and students eligible for federal financial aid. Latino student numbers have been mixed.

Starting Monday: Idaho Education News will take an in-depth look at higher education enrollment during the pandemic.




Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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