CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — West Virginia colleges and universities may be about to change the way they hire faculty and staff and admit students. But the plan has supporters of diversity practices, very upset.

Higher education in America has long practiced affirmative action and diversity, but there have been questions of fairness in some policies.

Under a bill being considered by the House of Delegates, rules and goals about diversity and inclusion would end. House Bill 3503 says the administrations of West Virginia higher education could not use judgments about privilege for one group, or discrimination of another group, as deciding factors for student admissions or job hiring.

The goal of the process is to make everything merit based. Groups that have historically experienced discrimination are objecting, but bill sponsors say the goal is fairness.

“A college and university could not give a person preferential treatment because of the fact they are in a certain group. So, let’s say you have a person who is a man, who identifies as a woman, they could not give that person preferential treatment in hiring and promotion,” said Del. Chris Pritt, (R) Kanawha.

“We need to tell our children, ‘It’s okay no matter what color you are, as long as you strive to be the best you can be, you can be whatever you do in life.’ No, this bill, I feel like it’s taking us backwards,” said Lauren Jackson, of the West Virginia Black Pride Foundation.

But sponsors of the bill say they are not interfering with the classroom. So, if colleges want to offer classes on critical race theory or have professors research those topics, the bill has no provisions to interfere with that academic freedom.

The non-discrimination bill was just introduced in the House Tuesday and was assigned to the education committee. The big question, with 24 days left in the legislative session, is there enough time to get it done?