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Regents wonder if the adjustments to DEI will adhere to new laws



Des Moines, Iowa – The Board of Regents cannot agree on whether modifications to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs at Iowa’s colleges will adhere to a measure that is currently sitting on Governor Kim Reynolds’ desk.

The presidents of Iowa’s three public institutions described how they ended DEI programs and increased civics instruction during the Regents meeting on Thursday. A few regents claim that the modifications they are attempting might have been pointless.

Regent Robert Cramer said, “Keeping it all quiet of what we’re doing until today I think maybe did lead to the legislature doing what they did and so assuming that’s signed into law, I kind of feel like what we’re doing is somewhat moot. That it doesn’t really matter what we think about your plans. It’s now going to go to the attorneys and the lawyers are all going to figure out how we comply with the law.”

Regent David Barker notes that while institutions are working on improvements, the legislature placed more stringent limits on DEI. “There’s a much broader definition of DEI in there. Much stronger enforcement comes from the Attorney General’s office. Prohibitions of money being spent from any source on these programs. And so my suggestion, this is just my suggestion, is that you know we begin working on compliance with that right away,” Barker said.

Barbara Wilson, the president of the University of Iowa, disagrees, claiming that it adheres to the spirit of the legislation. “While I wish too that we didn’t have laws in front of us and that the Board directives would’ve been given more opportunity to unfold, I think we shouldn’t jump to conclude anything about whether we’re in compliance with the laws. My read is different than yours on that front,” Wilson said.

Wilson notes that ultimately, serving all kids is the aim, and that previous DEI initiatives might not have adequately addressed this. “We may have spent a little too much time focusing on particular categories and particular groups in part because of historical challenges, so it made sense at the time, but we may have swung too far in one direction and it’s time for us to balance things out,” Wilson said.

The president of UNI was unable to provide a figure, although the closure of the DEI offices in Iowa and Iowa State will result in annual savings of $1.1 million. We’ll reallocate that money for other purposes.