Regents order study of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives at UI, ISU, UNI
DES MOINES — The board that governs the three state supported universities is launching a comprehensive review of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs at the schools.
The president of the Board of Regents has also directed the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa to “pause” implementing any new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives.
Representative Taylor Collins, a Republican from Mediapolis, said he appreciates the Regents response to concerns, but it’s time to pass a bill that dismantles the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion bureaucracies on the campuses. “They’re being used to drive a certain political agenda and it’s unacceptable,” Collins told a group of statehouse reporters Tuesday afternoon. “And Iowa taxpayers agree it’s unacceptable.”
A bill that’s eligible for debate in the Iowa House would prohibit the state universities from spending any money on staff or training that discusses things like racial privilege or pronouns which do not represent a gender. Collins has said DEI programs promote a “woke agenda” and he told reports he’s been shocked to hear from a lot of the faculty at the three universities.
“Faculty feel like this stuff is being pushed on them so much that it’s exhausting them,” Collins said.
It’s unclear how the House bill would impact the recent legal settlement with former Hawkeye football players. The university has agreed to hire a black studies professor from the University of Texas professor to oversee a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion action plan for Hawkeye athletes and coaches. Collins is a member of the panel that drafts the budgets for the state universities. “It’s frustrating that theoretically this DEI spending didn’t work,” Collins said, ” and then we’re going to spend money on DEI to solve the problem.”
Senator Ken Rozenboom, a Republican from Oskaloosa, is chairman of the Senate Education Committee. He hasn’t seen the House bill on this subject. “If the Regents are taking a hard look at this on their own, that’s probably a better approach to this,” Rozenboom told Radio Iowa, “or at least that’s a good starting place.”
Rozenboom does have concerns about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs on the campuses in Ames, Cedar Falls and Iowa City. “Earlier this year I asked the Board of Regents how many DEI employees there were and found out there were 110,” Rozenboom said, “which I think translates into quite a few dollars.”
Rozenboom indicated his approach has been to gather facts and figures and start investigating this year. “I don’t like to be impulsive,” Rozenboom said. “If the House sends something over, I’ll have to take a hard look at it, consider what the Regents are doing and we’ll go from there.”
Advocates of the Regents’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs say they are intended to ensure people from different backgrounds and experiences feel welcome on campus.