A student holds up a handmade sign in support of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs.
A student holds up a handmade sign in support of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs.

Regents approve DEI recommendations

After two days of student protests, six months of review from a regent DEI Study Group and a lengthy discussion by regent members, the Iowa Board of Regents (BOR) voted to approve the recommendations made by their DEI Study Group today. The recommendations most notably include a suggestion to restructure DEI-related departments and offices necessary for compliance and accreditation. 

The recommendations come from a study group which was formed after Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill earlier this year directing a “comprehensive study and review of the diversity, equity and inclusion programs and efforts of each institution of higher learning under [its] control.”

The study group met over the summer to review DEI programs at Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa. 

The DEI recommendations accepted by the regents today are as follows:

  1. Restructure DEI offices nonessential to compliance and accreditation.
  2. Review all college, department or unit-level DEI positions to determine whether their job is necessary for compliance, accreditation or student and employee support.
  3. Review services provided by offices currently supporting diversity or multicultural affairs to ensure they are available to all students.
  4. No employee, student or faculty members will be required to disclose their pronouns upon application or submit a DEI statement unless the position is required for DEI-related compliance or accreditation.
  5. Develop a BOR policy stating admissions cannot be based on race or other protected class characteristics.
  6. All DEI-related general education courses will be reviewed to ensure students have a wide array of courses to choose from to fulfill their requirements.
  7. Issue standard employee guidance regarding the separation of personal political advocacy from university business.
  8. Explore potential recruitment strategies for advancing diversity of intellectual and philosophical perspectives in faculty and staff applicant pools.
  9. Develop a proposal to establish opportunities for education and research on free speech and civic education.
  10.  A reminder should be issued by the regents on requirements of 4.2.I, which governs university websites and communications.

According to the study group recommendation document, the recommendations “are not intended to prohibit programs, campus activities, or functions required for compliance with state or federal laws, rules, regulations, grants, or contracts; or those necessary to meet the minimum requirements for obtaining or retaining institutional or discipline-specific accreditation.”

The board also reviewed a current student and faculty forum, which showed the programs were “critically important” to students and faculty, with 19.8% polled saying the universities needed to go further and add more programs like these.

UNI’s Director of University Relations, Pete Moris said today, “The University of Northern Iowa will allow the Iowa Board of Regents to consider the recommendations of the DEI Study Group at its November meeting before making any public comments on those recommendations. The university will continue providing exemplary support to all of our students, faculty and staff as we await further dialogue on the topic of DEI.”

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