Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training Review Committee lifts pause on University of Iowa DEI trainings, continues some evaluations

About two dozen trainings were evaluated, the Univesity of Iowa head diversity officer said.


Jenna Galligan

The Old Capitol is seen on Thursday, March 12, 2020.

Julia Shanahan, Politics Editor

A University of Iowa training review committee on Thursday lifted the campus-wide pause on departmental diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings — which was prompted by a White House Executive Order that aims to “combat offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating” in workplaces.

The UI released a statement on Thursday, saying the “committee continues to review a handful of programs but feels comfortable moving forward with our faculty and staff trainings, which are a vital part of our commitment to recruit, retain and advance a diverse campus.”

However, the UI did not elaborate on which trainings are still being evaluated.

Interim Associate Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Liz Tovar told The Daily Iowan two-dozen training programs were reviewed by the committee, but were not halted. She said they are still reviewing programs and waiting for consultation, but did not specify which programs are still being reviewed.

“We’re just waiting for further guidance on the Executive Order,” she said.

The UI formed the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training Review Committee after President Trump issued an Executive Order Sept. 22 that threatened to cut federal funds to public institutions that facilitate diversity, equity, and inclusion workplace trainings that “inculcates in its employees any form of race or sex stereotyping or any form of race or sex scapegoating.”

Because the UI uses federal contractors and federal grants to carry out some DEI training, Tovar sent an email to the UI President’s Cabinet and Council of Deans on Oct. 2 announcing a two-week pause in the following programs:

  • Harassment and discrimination training for university employees provided by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity and/or its external vendor;
  • Select trainings from the Diversity Resources unit, including but not limited to the BUILD Certificate Program, Virtual Discussions, and departmental requests;
  • Path to Distinction search committee training through the Office of the Provost, and Supervisor Training modules through Human Resources;
  • Trainings, workshops, or programs for UI employees that describe race or sex stereotyping and race or sex scapegoating; and
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings for UI employees that include concepts defined as divisive by the Executive Order.

According to the Office of the Vice President for Research, the UI has 923 active federally-funded projects on campus, and in fiscal year 2020 was awarded $346,721,973 in federal dollars received directly from a federal agency.

Departments on campus were encouraged to submit their DEI trainings to the Training Review Committee to ensure they are in compliance with the Executive Order. On Oct. 14, the UI announced that the review committee created a disclaimer statement that departments can use before a training.

“The university provides this training in support of its core values. No part of the training is intended to cause anyone discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of their race, sex, or any other protected classification,” the disclaimer says, according to a statement from the UI.

The Oct. 22 statement says that the committee worked with “a number of constituency groups” while navigating the Executive Order.

Sabine Martin contributed to this report.