UI stakeholders troubled by pausing of DEI programs

New diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at the university have been paused by the state Board of Regents while it conducts a study on the effectiveness of the programs.


Braden Ernst

A senator of the University of Iowa’s Undergraduate Student Government raises his hand to ask a question pertaining an amendment during a USG meeting at the Iowa Memorial Union on Feb. 10, 2022.

Jack Moore, News Reporter

Members from University of Iowa shared governance are worried about diversity, equity, and inclusion programs’ future.

The state Board of Regents halted all new DEI programs on March 14 at the UI, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa.

Regents President  Mike Richards stated in the March 14 announcement that the pause is intended to allow regents time to conduct a comprehensive study on the success of DEI programs at the three universities.

Richards also stated the regents are studying and reviewing all DEI programs and efforts and will determine how to continue once the study is complete. Board members David Barker, Jim Lindenmayer, and Greta Rouse will conduct this study on the programs, the announcement stated.

In an email to The Daily Iowan, Josh Lehman, senior communications director for the regents, wrote that a timetable for the study still needs to be completed.

“The Board is engaged on this issue and wants to have a thorough understanding of all DEI initiatives at the universities,” Lehman wrote.

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Ana Rodríguez-Rodríguez, UI faculty senate president, wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan that the inclusion of DEI initiatives is important to the university’s culture.

“The faculty at the University of Iowa are committed to helping to create a campus community where all faculty, students, staff, and visitors can thrive,” she wrote.

Rodríguez also wrote the role of faculty is vital to DEI at the UI and other universities.

“Faculty’s role in this mission is pivotal, and that is why we will welcome the opportunity to engage with our peers, even when those conversations are difficult,” she wrote.

Going forward, Rodríguez wrote that she hopes the UI will be a more inclusive and welcoming place for discussing differences, and DEI initiatives continue to be valued.

“We welcome further discussions about our differences, our commonalities, and about how working together is the best way to build a culture where all of us feel welcomed and valued on our campus. We owe it to our students, to our colleagues, and to ourselves,” she wrote.

It is unclear from the announcement what programs specifically within the universities are being examined.

The UI has a multitude of DEI programs available to students, including ones geared toward the transition from high school to college, diversity trainings, support for students, and the anti-violence coalition.

Additionally, the university recently prioritized DEI efforts in its 2022-2027 Strategic Plan. The plan states it was created with the UI’s “commitment to moving from a focus on diversity alone to a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion” in mind.

“Development of the plan also followed a period of continuing national conversation that contributed to heightened awareness of the need to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at Iowa. This plan’s implementation begins at a time when the university community is broadly supportive of meaningful change toward a more respectful and inclusive culture in which individuals feel a sense of belonging,” it states.

Amber Crow, president of the UI Graduate and Professional Student Government, wrote in an email to the DI that she is also is dismayed by the DEI updates.

“It has been disheartening seeing how the Iowa Legislature (and of course the BoR) have been targeting our institution and sister institutions on invaluable programming,” she wrote.