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

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Opinion | DEI programs are especially needed in Iowa

Cutting DEI resources is a step in the wrong direction for Iowa. We need to protect and expand these programs.
University+of+Northern+Iowa+students+speak+to+protestors+during+a+Iowa+Board+of+Regents+meeting+in+Cedar+Falls%2C+Iowa+on+Wednesday%2C+Nov.+15%2C+2023.+Several+speakers+stayed+throughout+the+day+to+speak+to+the+regents+about+recent+discussions+of+ending+funds+for+diversity+equity+and+inclusion
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

Diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in the state of Iowa are facing an existential threat as resources remain up in the air.

The state Board of Regents has received a lot of criticism over its recommendation in November that could lead to resources being restructured in the University of Iowa’s diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. The recommendations also restructure all DEI programs the regents deem unnecessary for compliance or accreditation.

According to the Department of Education, DEI programs need funding because they are necessary to combat race-based disparities in higher education enrollment and attainment as well as gaps in earnings, employment, and other related outcomes.

DEI programs are not a political statement and should not be treated as such. Taking away funding for DEI efforts at the UI will have significant negative consequences for student and faculty recruitment.

Opponents of DEI programs say universities are already welcoming places and thus the programs aren’t needed. According to regents member David Barker, “… Some of these programs appear to have goals involving diversity and equity that go beyond attempting to provide equal opportunity for all students.”

DEI programs help create a campus culture that allows for openness, respect, and safety and provides an environment in which those with diverse attitudes, beliefs, values, and behaviors feel included and thrive.

Curtailing DEI efforts at a university that has a student body that is over 50 percent white would be a step in the wrong direction for a school that claims to care about the diversity in its student body.

In an interview with Iowa Public Radio, Rep. Mary Madison, D-West Des Moines, elaborated on the effects of cutting DEI programs.

“… Attacking diversity programs in Iowa will make it harder to convince people to move here,”  Madison said in the interview. “The statement you’re putting out says, ‘You’re not welcome.’”

One of the key objectives of diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education is to bridge the gap between white populations and racial and ethnic minority populations. By promoting and nurturing a greater level of diversity in higher education, institutions can contribute to a more equitable and just society, while also reaping numerous benefits themselves.

According to a report from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, “Effective mentoring relationships [with a focus on DEI] have an overall positive effect on academic achievement, retention, and degree attainment as well as on career success and satisfaction.”

DEI programs provide an environment in which those with diverse attitudes, beliefs, values, and behaviors feel included and thrive. Better efforts need to be made to ensure these programs have the funding they need to be a proper resource for minority students.

Racial and cultural diversity are deeply ingrained in our society and should not be ignored. To celebrate this diversity and cultivate harmony and respect for all peoples, universities must nurture equity and inclusion in the classroom.

 


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.


 

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About the Contributor
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
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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.