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

Iowa lawmakers advance bill to codify Iowa Board of Regents changes to DEI

The bill would also add two non-voting members to the Iowa Board of Regents appointed by majority leaders in the Iowa House and Senate.
Ayrton Breckenridge
The inside of the gold dome is seen during the first day of the 2024 Iowa legislative session at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024. The Republicans have 34 seats in the senate and the Democrats have 16 seats.

Iowa lawmakers advanced a bill Monday to alter diversity, equity, and inclusion requirements at Iowa Board of Regents-controlled universities.

House File 2327, introduced last week, would codify DEI directives issued by the regents this fall, including eliminating department-level DEI positions and a review of DEI services to ensure they are available to all students.

In a 2-1 vote, the bill was advanced to the House Education Committee, which is expected to vote on the bill this week. Otherwise, HF 2327 will be killed by a legislative deadline requiring it to be voted out of the originating committee by Friday.

Iowa Rep. Sue Cahill, D-Marshalltown, who was the only Democrat on the subcommittee, was the sole dissenting vote on the bill. Cahill said she had several questions regarding the bill and voted against it because she needed more information.

Cahill suggested adding an appointee of the minority leaders of the House and Senate to the Board of Regents as well as the two proposed ex-officio members designated by the Majority Leader of the Senate, and one from the Speaker of the House.

Cahill expressed concern about prohibiting institutions from hiring new employees without regent approval because the board meetings are held a few times over the year.

Iowa Reps. Henry Stone, R-Forest City, and Taylor Collins, R-Mediapolis, voted to move the bill forward.

Harry Manaligod said removing DEI programming or severely limiting it would prevent “countless potential geniuses” from getting the education that is needed to make Iowa a better place to live.

“I know so many brilliant people that would not have gotten the quality of education and the student support needed to learn if it was not for diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Manaligod said.

Keenan Crow, director of policy and advocacy at One Iowa, an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, said DEI is meant for people who have not historically had opportunities to feel connected to the campus community and with resources to help them succeed.

“Any given week, there is some three-letter acronym that folks in this building are upset about,” Crow said. “Something new is trotted out at a regular pace as being responsible for all the ills of our society. The three-letter acronym boogeyman of the week is now DEI.”

Ryan Benn, a deacon at Alathea Baptist Church in Des Moines and a lobbyist for The Family Leader — which registered in favor of the bill — said whatever the motivations might be behind DEI programs, in practice, they have been used to perpetuate racism.

Benn said DEI policies use race-based decision-making and often discriminate against people who are “unwilling to affirm certain ideologies.”

“We can’t defeat racism with more racism,” Benn said. “Scripture teaches that the gospel is available to all when the race doesn’t matter. Race should not matter to us either, and that’s why we’re in support of this bill.”

Courtney Collier of Waukee, Iowa, asked lawmakers to expand the bill to include K-12 schools. Collier said DEI courses and curriculum in Iowa universities and government schools have resulted in “discrimination, exclusion, and indoctrination” which has extended to the workplace.

RELATED: Proposed legislation would cap tuition increases at 3 percent at Iowa’s public universities

“It’s time to put an end to this failed concept — It had taken us backward,” Collier said.

Additional DEI changes in the bill would include:

  • Prohibiting institutions from hiring new administrators without regent approval.
  • Preventing universities from requiring anyone on campus to submit a DEI statement, disclose pronouns, or be evaluated based on DEI participation.
  • Prohibit the consideration of race and other protected class characteristics during the admission process.
  • Separation of personal political advocacy from an employee’s job duties and business of the institution.
  • Direct institutions to adopt policies to explore recruitment strategies to advance the diversity of intellectual and philosophical perspectives.

The bill would also cap tuition increases at 3 percent for Iowa’s public universities, add lawmakers to the regents, and restructure the regents’ ability to hire a new president.

In the bill, the nine-member Board of Regents would expand by two non-voting members. One of the two new regents would be selected by the Speaker of the Iowa House and the other would be selected by the majority leader of the Iowa Senate.

The regents’ presidential hiring ability would shift to a committee that would recommend a candidate. The change would restrict the regents from hiring a new president unless the subcommittee recommended the candidate.

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About the Contributors
Roxy Ekberg, News Reporter
Roxy Ekberg is a first year at the University of Iowa. In the Honors Program, she is double majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in Spanish. Prior to her role as a politics reporter, she worked news reporter at the Daily Iowan and worked at her local newspaper The Wakefield Republican.
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.