The Iowa Board of Regents recently voted to require the state’s three public universities to eliminate DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) staff positions not mandated by accreditation or legal requirements.
The decision follows a bill signed in June by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds that tasked the board with reviewing DEI programs at the schools, which include Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, and the University of Northern Iowa.
The board formed a DEI Study Group that presented a report with 10 recommendations last week, reports the Iowa Capitol Dispatch. In addition to eliminating unnecessary DEI positions, the recommendations include reviewing admissions policies to restrict consideration of protected characteristics and ensuring that students, faculty, and staff are not required to disclose their pronouns.
Advocates have pushed back against the board’s decision, calling it potentially detrimental to recruitment and retainment efforts.
“The regents chose to align with an extremist group of House Republicans, showing blatant disregard for the compelling evidence from data, research, and the desires of the campus community,” said Courtney Reyes, executive director of the LGBTQ rights group One Iowa, in a statement. “Eliminating these crucial diversity, equity, and inclusion programs will devastate our universities’ capacity to attract, retain, and prepare students for their future careers.”
Earlier this year, the Iowa Legislature considered a bill to disband DEI programs at the three universities and restrict state funding for DEI offices or administrators. Although the bill didn’t pass, Board of Regents President Michael Richards directed the schools to pause implementing new DEI programs temporarily.