CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — The Iowa Board of Regents, heard a task force report on Diversity Equity, and Inclusion at the University of Iowa, the University of Northern Iowa, and Iowa State University. The effort was launched due to a law signed earlier this year by Governor Kim Reynolds, calling for a closer look at DEI on Iowa college campuses. The task force voted to approve ten recommendations, with just one minor language change to one item.

Here are those recommendations as proposed:

  • Recommendation 1: Restructure the central, university-wide DEI offices to eliminate any DEI functions that are not necessary for compliance or accreditation. Support services in these offices must be broadly available to all students and/or employees, subject to applicable state or federal eligibility requirements.
  • Recommendation 2: Review all college, department, or unit-level DEI positions to determine whether DEI-specific job responsibilities are necessary for compliance, accreditation or student and employee support services. Any position responsibilities that are not necessary for these purposes shall be adjusted or eliminated. Position and/or working titles shall be reviewed to ensure they appropriately reflect position responsibilities.
  • Recommendation 3: Review the services provided by offices currently supporting diversity or multicultural affairs in other divisions of the university to ensure they are available to all students, subject to applicable state or federal eligibility requirements. Program promotional and informational materials and websites shall be updated to clarify that the mission of these offices is to support success broadly.
  • Recommendation 4: Take reasonable steps to assure the following: No employee, student, applicant, or campus visitor is required to submit a DEI statement or be evaluated based on participation in DEI initiatives, unless the position is required for DEI-related compliance or accreditation. No employee, student, applicant, or campus visitor is compelled to disclose their pronouns.
  • Recommendation 5: Develop a Board policy prohibiting the consideration of race and other protected class characteristics in admissions that is consistent with the law.
  • Recommendation 6: Initiate a review of DEI-related general education categories and update category names to accurately reflect the array of options students may select from to satisfy these requirements and ensure a breadth of offerings.
  • Recommendation 7: Standardize issuance of annual employee guidance regarding the separation of personal political advocacy from university business and employment activities.
  • Recommendation 8: Explore potential recruitment strategies for advancing diversity of intellectual and philosophical perspective in faculty and staff applicant pools.
  • Recommendation 9: Develop a proposal, including cost, to establish a widespread initiative that includes opportunities for education and research on free speech and civic education.
  • Recommendation 10: Annually, the Board office shall issue a reminder to the universities on the requirements of 4.2.I, which governs university websites and other university communications.

Regent members had a spirited discussion regarding the ten recommendations.

“Our campus or campuses should be a place where debate and conversation take place, as well as learning the ability to see both sides of an issue and argue both sides of it,” said Regent Greta Rouse. “More than anything we want students to leave our universities to think critically.” 

“Our decision should be what’s best for school cooperation with their leaders, instead, we are micromanaging their decisions and imposing new political intrusion on them, the professors in our schools,” said Regent Nancy Dunkel.

“The universities will look at implementing the campus procedures, based on the recommendations, then they will go back to the board at the April 2024 meeting,” said Josh Lehman, spokesman for the Board office.

There were no students or university staff speaking at the meeting, though the Regents did have breakfast with some UNI students who discussed their thoughts on the issue.

If you would like to view the entire report, click here.