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One of the elements of the education budget passed on May 3 is Division V which places a hiring freeze on the regent universities related to their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. That division also requires the regents to publish a study and review of DEI programs and efforts.

The review requires an assessment each institution’s current DEI programming, curricula, training and related activities. It also requires the salary, benefits and any other compensation paid to employees or individuals tasked with furthering an institution’s DEI efforts. It requires an assessment on how each institution’s DEI efforts comply with applicable state and federal laws, rules, regulations, court orders, settlement agreements or executive orders. And it requires an assessment of each institution’s higher learning contracts or grants requiring DEI efforts.

The report must be considered by the state board during its November 2023 meeting. The state board will submit a final report to the governor and general assembly no later than Dec. 1, 2023.

But what do diversity, equity and inclusion efforts mean? Well, don’t look to Iowa code or the budget for that answer.

Democrat State Sen. Zach Wahls asked Republican State Sen. Jeff Taylor that very question during debate.

Taylor said there was a bill in the House aimed at addressing the issue, but he preferred it not be in the budget.

Wahls noted DEI is a fairly broad category and asked if the University of Iowa could hire an outreach position to try and get veterans into higher education.

Taylor said he is sure the regents have their own definitions of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in mind. He acknowledged the bill does not define what diversity or equity or inclusion are.

“I think that alone is reason to vote against this bill,” Wahls said.


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