Iowa University Board Approves Cuts to Campus DEI Initiatives

The board approved 10 recommendations to remove all DEI functions that are not necessary for accreditation or compliance.
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Published on November 27, 2023
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  • The Iowa Board of Regents approved 10 recommendations that eliminate diversity, equity, and inclusion at public colleges.
  • Among the recommendations are the removal of DEI functions not related to accreditation or compliance.
  • The day prior to the approval meeting, students addressed the board to explain how DEI initiatives have positively impacted their college experience.

Following a six-month study on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at Iowa's public institutions, the state's board of regents has approved 10 recommendations to eliminate most DEI initiatives on campuses.

These recommendations include removing all DEI functions that are not necessary for accreditation or compliance and assuring that no individuals on campuses are evaluated based on their participation in DEI initiatives.

During the Nov. 16 board meeting, study group members stressed the importance of regularly reviewing DEI programming due to its significant boom over the last few years.

Iowa Regent David Barker additionally emphasized that the state’s public institutions will never discriminate on the basis of race, nationality, sex, gender, or sexual preference, regardless of whether they retain or eliminate the reviewed initiatives.

"I learned from this review that our universities are welcoming places," Barker said. "They do not withhold benefits or opportunities from anyone."

Despite Barker's sentiment, last Thursday's announcement was met with backlash from students and faculty who have protested against DEI cuts for months.

Many students had addressed the board on the Wednesday before the approval meeting to urge them to reconsider.

"Through diversity, equity, and inclusion services, I’ve not only found myself, but my family," said University of Northern Iowa (UNI) student Sam Zimmerman to the board. "To be able to see other people who look like me and share similar experiences reminds me that I’m not alone."

In a video posted to TikTok, more students at UNI spoke about the significant impact DEI programs have had on them and their peers.


University of Northern Iowa students rallied Wednesday at the Iowa Board of Regents meeting, protesting the possible removal of diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives (DEI) at the state’s colleges.

♬ original sound - Iowa Starting Line

One student describes DEI programs as "the first place [they] felt like [they] belonged," while another says, "There are so many ways that this country is changing, and Iowa's gonna get left behind if we don't get with the program."

Over the next few months, The University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and UNI will further examine the recommendations and their own DEI programming to determine how to best implement changes.

All three institutions will develop their own task force or advisory group that will assist in this endeavor.