CEDAR FALLS — The Board of Regents will hear a report from the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion study group at its meeting next week on the UNI campus.
The group made ten recommendations, including ensuring that employee performance is not evaluated based on an individual’s participation in DEI initiatives unless they specifically relate to an employee’s job.
They recommend that the universities should not require individuals to disclose their pronouns, as the group says this has intersected with politics and can make people feel uncomfortable. Another recommendation suggests a standardized annual employee guidance message regarding the separation of personal political advocacy from university business and employment activities. The group says there is a perception by some that the universities are dominated by individuals who share a singular political perspective and use the university as a vehicle for advocacy.
The DEI review is required by a bill the governor signed into law in June. The Board of Regents will meet in Cedar Falls next Wednesday and Thursday.
Here are the DEI Study Group recommendations:
1. Restructure the central, university-wide DEI offices to eliminate any DEI functions that are not necessary for compliance or accreditation. Support services in these offices must be broadly available to all students and/or employees, subject to applicable state or federal eligibility requirements.
2. Review all college, department, or unit-level DEI positions to determine whether DEI specific job responsibilities are necessary for compliance, accreditation, or student and employee support services. Any position responsibilities that are not necessary for these purposes shall be adjusted or eliminated. Position and/or working titles shall be reviewed to ensure they appropriately reflect position responsibilities.
3. Review the services provided by offices currently supporting diversity or multicultural affairs in other divisions of the university to ensure they are available to all students, subject to applicable state or federal eligibility requirements. Program promotional and informational materials and websites shall be updated to clarify that the mission of these offices is to support success broadly.
4. Take reasonable steps to assure the following:
a. No employee, student, applicant, or campus visitor is required to submit a DEI statement or be evaluated based on participation in DEI initiatives, unless the position is required for DEI-related compliance or accreditation.
b. No employee, student, applicant, or campus visitor is compelled to disclose their pronouns.
5. Develop a Board policy prohibiting the consideration of race and other protected class characteristics in admissions that is consistent with the law.
6. Initiate a review of DEI-related general education categories and update category names to accurately reflect the array of options students may select from to satisfy these requirements and ensure a breadth of offerings.
7. Standardize issuance of annual employee guidance regarding the separation of personal political advocacy from university business and employment activities.
8. Explore potential recruitment strategies for advancing diversity of intellectual and philosophical perspective in faculty and staff applicant pools.
9. Develop a proposal, including cost, to establish a widespread initiative that includes opportunities for education and research on free speech and civic education.
10. Annually, the Board office shall issue a reminder to the universities on the requirements of 4.2.I, which governs university websites and other university communications.