Guest Column | Iowa’s DEI bureaucracy should be defunded

Students and professors can promote divisive and radical ideologies on their own time.


Jack McGuire

The University of Iowa Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion offices on Thursday, Feb 3, 2022.

Departments devoted to diversity, equity, and inclusion are now commonplace in American universities. Nationally, the average university employs 3.4 DEI personnel for every 100 tenure-track faculty. In 2022 over 60 percent of academic institutions either already include or are considering including DEI criteria in their tenure standards.

At the University of Iowa, some departments require diversity or DEI statements in their job postings, and the university employs 59 DEI personnel; the average major university employs 45.

Despite its innocuous acronym, DEI represents a new, unique, controversial, and highly political set of ideas. It promotes the “anti-racist” ideology of authors such as Ibram X. Kendi, who writes that “the only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination”, and relies on foundational concepts such as “institutional racism” and “white privilege” which are rooted in a strongly left-wing worldview and which conservative-leaning people find deeply troubling.

I would defend to the death anyone’s right to believe in DEI and to advocate for his or her worldview — on campus or anywhere else. However, supporters of DEI do not have a right to a taxpayer-funded bureaucracy dedicated to quietly inserting the ideology into every aspect of university life.

In the absence of those who are willing to take the social risk of opposing “diversity”, these controversial ideas will spread unchecked behind the scenes, away from the free and open debate which should accompany any action taken by a public university. These are not the methods of those who believe their ideas will win out in the marketplace of ideas.

Recently, legislation was proposed to ban spending on DEI training and DEI bureaucracy at state universities in Iowa. The bill won’t pass during this legislative session. Nevertheless, a legislative ban should be pursued.

Prohibiting DEI bureaucracy would place Iowa on a growing list of top-tier public university systems, including Texas and Florida, which are taking steps to roll back DEI offices and refocus on educational excellence.

The Board of Regents condemned the idea, noting that DEI protects the university from lawsuits and that banning DEI “could affect the universities’ standing with national accrediting bodies and the NCAA”; all Iowans should be outraged that our right to make policy for our own universities could be the subject of blackmail by national institutions which have been captured by a particular fringe political position.

Iowa’s universities pay their top four DEI bureaucrats a combined $750,000 to sow division and promote radicalism. These positions, along with the spiraling network of offices and initiatives they lead, should be defunded at the earliest opportunity.

If the UI faculty, administrators, and students believe in DEI and want to advance the ideology in the public square, they will always be free to do so on their own time and at their own expense.

  • Calvin Kotrba, University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences undergraduate student

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.