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

Higher education overhaul passes Iowa House

Bill would reduce the number Iowa Board of Regents meetings, codify regents’ diversity, equity, and inclusion directives.
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 House lawmakers voted Thursday to eliminate all “non-essential” diversity, equity, and inclusion staff in Iowa’s three public universities and cap tuition increases at 3 percent.

The bill, House File 2558, would codify 10 DEI directives doled out to Iowa’s three public universities by the Iowa Board of Regents last November and recently added to the Regent’s policy manual at their meeting Wednesday.

The bill passed the House 56-39 with six Republicans — Reps. Chad Ingels, R-Randalia, Shannon Latham, R-Sheffield, Brian Lohse, R-Bondurant, Brent Siegrist, R-Council Bluffs, Ray Sorensen, R-Greenfield, and David Young, R-Van Meter — voting with all Democrats against the bill.

The bill now moves on to the Iowa Senate. Senate Republicans have not introduced a similar bill this session.

Republicans say the bill aims to combat the “ideological enforcement centers” of DEI programs in Iowa’s regent-controlled universities — including the Unversity of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa.

Rep. Taylor Collins, R-Mediapolis, who led the bill on the House floor Thursday, said Iowans are losing trust in the higher education system.

“Whether they were created with good intentions or not, it has become clear that they now are ideological enforcement centers that suppress the pursuit of truth and most importantly — merit,” Collins said during a debate on the House floor Thursday afternoon.

The regents approved measures that universities can continue to provide the same programming under DEI, but the services must be available to all students.

Democrats say this provision would not give the targeted support that many college students need to succeed in college.

“The only goal of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs is to meet the needs of the individual students,” Rep. Elinor Levin, D-Iowa City said. “Not just assume we all need the same things all the time. So if we provide all the students all the services all the time, that suggests we’re ignoring those individual needs.”

Tuition raise caps at regent-controlled universities.

The bill would also cap tuition increases at 3 percent, from year-to-year. An analysis of the fiscal impactof the bill by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency found the bill is expected to have a negative impact on universities revenues.

University of Iowa students who receive in-state tuition saw a 3.5 percent tuition increase this school year.

Republicans and Democrats agreed that something needed to be done to control the cost of college for Iowans, but Democrats said capping tuition increases without backfilling state funding would cause universities to cut services.

Under the bill, the nine-member Iowa Board of Regents would add two non-voting members from the legislature. One appointed by the Iowa House Speaker and the other by the Iowa Senate Majority leader.

The bill also clarifies that the regents are the ones to appoint University presidents. The bill would still allow the regents to form a committee of staff, faculty, and students as the search committee.

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About the Contributors
Liam Halawith, Politics Editor
Liam Halawith is a third-year student at the University of Iowa studying Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Public Policy. Before his role as Politics Editor Liam was a politics reporter for the DI. Outside of the DI Liam has interned at the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Southeast Iowa Union. This is his second year working for the DI.
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.