University of Iowa students discuss proposed DEI bill

Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 10:35 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Earlier this month, lawmakers passed a bill out of the House Education Committee that could dramatically reduce the influence of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at the state’s three public universities.

Those programs have been used to promote programs protecting a student’s race, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Northern Iowa, Iowa State, and the University of Iowa then immediately put a hold on any expansion of their diversity, inclusion, and equity programs.

Iowa Sophomore Political Science student Kyle Clare said DEI ideas being spread around campus simply wasn’t fair.

“I don’t think the university has to be forced to always consider race when it comes to certain things,” he said.

Clare testified before a House subcommittee in favor of banning public funding for diversity offices and the administrators who run them.

“That’s a lot more beneficial to the taxpayers of Iowa, and the people of Iowa than DEI ever will be,” said Clare.

Schools like Iowa have greatly increased their diversity, equity, and inclusivity programs in an effort to protect minority students while educating the entire student population. It seemed obvious to Iowa Junior Mazvita Makoni.

“It’s very sad, honestly, and shocking that in 2023 that we’re having this sort of discussion,” she said.

Makoni is the President of the African Student Association. It’s a group she joined to meet other students who shared the same African heritage.

“There isn’t a lot of space for you to do that, especially if you’re African,” said Makoni.

Those who want to eliminate diversity offices and administration said they weren’t against the organization; they opposed using public dollars being spent on what they see as a progressive political effort impacting every student.

“It’s important that any funding the university takes goes towards education and nothing else,” said Clare.

That’s an argument Makoni said she simply doesn’t understand.

“Most of the time I’m the only African American student in the class,” she said. “So, it’s just shocking that people say there’s too much DEI. If anything, there’s not enough.”

The bill makes exceptions for federal research, short-term speakers, and student groups on campus. The Iowa Board of Regents has just started what it calls “a comprehensive study and review” of the DEI programs already in place at Iowa, Iowa State, and Northern Iowa.