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The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Students, UI programs respond to regents DEI study group ahead of board decision

Public comment at Wednesday’s meeting revealed negative feedback to recommendations.
Cody Blissett
University of Northern Iowa students speak to protestors during a Iowa Board of Regents meeting in Cedar Falls, Iowa on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023. Several speakers stayed throughout the day to speak to the regents about recent discussions of ending funds for diversity equity and inclusion

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — Ahead of the Iowa Board of Regents’ decision Thursday to possibly restructure the state’s public universities’ diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, students spoke out Wednesday against the recommendations at the regents meeting at the University of Northern Iowa. 

The students called for the board to carefully consider the ramifications of the committee’s recommendations before adopting them in future meetings. In March, regents President Michael Richards formed a committee to study and review all diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI, programs at the three regent universities.

The regents’ study group is set to present its final report and recommendations on a nearly seven-month study of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at regent universities to the board at its meeting Thursday. 

The report recommends that the regent-controlled universities restructure central DEI program initiatives, keeping only the parts essential to compliance and accreditation unless otherwise specified by federal law. 

The recommendations also included developing a regents policy banning the consideration of race in admissions, not requiring the disclosure of pronouns, and others. 

Olivia Garcia, a first-generation college student at Iowa State University, said providing DEI initiatives that only maintain accreditation and compliance is not a way of advocating for Iowa students.

“Not only does the Board of Regents have a history of not advocating for its marginalized students, but the DEI study group report and recommendations make it clear that you also want to take away the semblance of support you have provided for your students,” Garcia said.

UNI students Archer Trip, Sam Zimmerman, Angela Davidson, and others encouraged the regents to continue funding DEI services ahead of their decision on Thursday.

Keenan Crow, the director of policy and advocacy at One Iowa, an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, said DEI programs and initiatives are important for students because they can improve student academic performance and involvement. 

“[The report] does not seek to understand why DEI initiatives are needed, it does not seek to understand what the benefits of the DEI are,” Crow said. “The entire report just seeks to create justification for removing those efforts, and it will do it by any means necessary, including by ignoring all the feedback that was given by the campus community.”

On June 1, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed Senate File 560 into law, which required the regents to conduct the study and review the institutions’ programs and efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The recommendations come after the Iowa Legislature considered two anti-DEI bills in the 2023 session and 22 other states introduced bans on DEI initiatives in this year, according to a report by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

UI Honors program recommends students form DEI-related clubs

The University of Iowa Honors Program sent out an email to students enrolled in the honors program on Tuesday. The email, obtained by The Daily Iowan, said these recommendations would represent a change to the structure and delivery of some services on campus. 

The email also encouraged students to create DEI-related student groups “to sustain a culture of accepting and uplifting students from all backgrounds and experiences” pending a final decision from the regents. Under the recommendations of the committee, regent-governed universities would have to open any DEI support and resources to the entire student population. 

These student organizations would be through the university’s Office of Leadership and Engagement in the Division of Student Life. 

Alejandro Rojas contributed to this report.

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About the Contributors
Shreya Reddy
Shreya Reddy, News Reporter
Shreya Reddy is a freshman at the University of Iowa. Coming from a small town in Kansas, Shreya is double majoring in English and Political Science on the Pre-Law track. Before coming to the Daily Iowan, she has written for her neighborhood magazine and her schools literary magazine as well as writing an investigative journalism piece.
Cody Blissett
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
Cody Blissett is a visual editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a third year student at the University of Iowa studying cinema and screenwriting. This is his first year working for The Daily Iowan.