Iowa universities told to pull back DEI functions

Iowa Legislature passed law earlier this year that directed l Board of Regents to review DEI policies in the universities.

Published: November 20, 2023 10:23pm

Updated: November 20, 2023 10:31pm

(The Center Square) -

The Iowa Board of Regents called for the state's three public universities to review the diversity, equity and inclusion programs, also known as DEI, and eliminate functions unnecessary for compliance or accreditation.

The vote came after Regent David Barker presented a report to the board from a three-member task force formed in March that included feedback from students, faculty, DEI administrators and others.

David Barker said the University of Iowa, Iowa State and University of Northern Iowa are examples of diversity.

"The combined percentage of students that are members of minority racial groups is more than double that of the population of Iowa and our minority graduation rates, including for African American students, are higher than average," Barker said.

The Iowa Legislature passed Senate File 560 earlier this year that directed the Board of Regents to review DEI policies in the universities.

The recommendations adopted by the board also require universities to take reasonable steps to ensure "no employee, student, applicant, or campus visitor is compelled to disclose their pronouns."

The universities must also "explore a proposal, including cost, to establish a widespread initiative that includes opportunities for education and research on free speech and civic education."

The policy could be a model for other states. Rep. Alex Dallman said in a social media post he thinks the Wisconsin Board of Regents should enact the policy.

"The DEI study group looked at programs and efforts by the universities in Iowa surrounding DEI," Dallman said. "Included in their recommendations is eliminating unnecessary DEI related positions and responsibilities as well as eliminating DEI specific operations and services at their state-funded universities."

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