Iowa University Board votes to scale back DEI initiatives

The Iowa Board of Regents has voted to eliminate campuswide diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts at public universities in the state.

The decision follows a law signed by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds in June, directing the board to review DEI initiatives at Iowa’s public universities. The recommendations ban universities from mandating participation in DEI initiatives or requiring submission of DEI statements, with exemptions for jobs related to DEI compliance or accreditation. The only initiatives that will be kept are the ones that are legally required for compliance with the law or accreditation standards.

The move has sparked vocal opposition from students, and a student regent voted against the recommendation, citing student resistance. The board’s decision will initiate changes at the state’s three public universities—University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa—with plans to implement the recommendations due in April. The recommendations also require university leaders to review department-level DEI positions and adjust or eliminate jobs exceeding legally required minimums. Each institution’s board is directed to establish an admissions policy prohibiting the consideration of race and other protected class characteristics, aligning with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June.

Despite student and some board member opposition, the majority approved the recommendations, emphasizing their vagueness to allow universities flexibility in balancing student needs with legislative concerns.

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