Iowa’s three public universities will be expected to scale back diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, which have garnered massive criticism in more conservative circles, after the state’s Board of Regents approved 10 recommendations to make the cuts last Thursday.
“There are several programs that are, by policy, open to all students, but as they’re marketed they could create a perception that they’re not available to all students,” David Barker who sits on the Iowa Board of Regents said, according to local outlet Iowa News Now.
“And so we’re asking that universities reexamine that marketing and how these programs are presented to students to make sure that it’s clear to everyone that these programs are available for all students.”
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According to the same outlet, Board of Regents member Nancy Dunkel argued the move “micromanages” universities’ decisions and imposes “new political intrusions.”
However, those supporting the measure argue non-DEI related resources would still be available for all students.
Measures approved last Thursday will require the universities to eliminate “any DEI functions not necessary for compliance or accreditation.”
Colleges will also be expected to review any DEI positions at the departmental or unit level to determine whether these roles are required for accreditation, compliance or student and employee support services.
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University offices, in the restructuring, will need to “review the services” provided by offices “currently supporting diversity or multicultural affairs.”
Other adopted recommendations bar any policy requiring students, faculty or others to share their pronouns, ban consideration of race or other protected class status in admissions, “standardize issuance of annual employee guidance regarding the separation of personal political advocacy from university business and employment activities,” and support “intellectual and philosophical diversity” and “free speech” and “civic education.”
The development comes after Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill establishing a commission to conduct the review earlier this year. It also follows a slew of other efforts by state Republicans to restrict the programs, including a bill the legislature considered that would have required the universities to disband their DEI programs, but it failed to pass.
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Board of Regents President Michael Richards told the universities to “pause the implementation of any new DEI programs” in March, according to The Des Moines Register.
State Rep. Taylor Collins, R-Mediapolis, told the outlet in an interview that he believes the adopted recommendations are a “good step forward.”
“I appreciate the board approving them formally and look forward to seeing them being implemented over the coming months here,” he added.
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