U of U Centers Closing: Another Anti-DEI Legislative Compliance

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For more than twenty years, the LGBT Resource Center at the University of Utah (U of U) has been a beacon of support for the LGBTQIA+ community on campus. Its enduring presence, however, will abruptly cease this Friday to adhere to a new state law.

The closure stems from Utah’s HB 261 legislation, which restricts diversity-related campus initiatives. U of U is also closing its Center for Equity and Student Belonging, as well as the Women’s Resource Center, in compliance with the new law. These centers’ services will be reorganized under two new centralized centers.

The U of U Office of Student Affairs published a statement regarding the changes, which describes a “new model” under which “the Women’s Resource Center, LGBT Resource Center, the Center for Equity and Student Belonging, and the Black Cultural Center student support services that are allowed under the law will be incorporated into the Center for Student Access and Resources.”

Further changes include renaming the American Indian Resource Center to the Center for Native Excellence and Tribal Engagement. Scholarships once managed by student affairs departments will now be centrally overseen by finance, budget, and accounting services, and the Utah Board of Higher Education will now require rigorous board reviews for existing centers and a meticulous approval process for any proposed new ones.

The U of U LGBT Resource Center will hold a farewell celebration on Friday, and invited the campus community via Instagram to “come together to honor the… 21 years of commitment that went into creating a safe environment where everyone is valued, not despite of their identities, but because of them.”

Unlike some other institutions where anti-DEI legislation has led to significant layoffs and eliminations of positions, the restructuring at U of U has not yet resulted in job losses for staff or faculty associated with the affected centers.

As HB 261 comes into effect July 1, a hotline will be operational for reporting suspected instances of non-compliance with the new legislation.