OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 11:23 AM PT – Wednesday, March 8, 2023
A bill that has been progressing through the Iowa House of Representatives aims to ban diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) spending which would effectively halt “woke agenda” within Iowa state colleges.
House File 616 would prohibit the state’s public universities from spending money on DEI offices or employees in positions focused on race, gender identity, or sexual orientation. However, courses, research, student organizations, and guest speakers that are focused on those areas are still permitted.
“For too long, the DEI bureaucracies at our institutions of higher education have been used to push a woke agenda on the faculty, staff and students,” Representative Taylor Collins (R-Iowa) told Fox News. “Under the guise of diversity and inclusion, these programs work to indoctrinate students into their preferred political ideology.”
Critics of the bill have claimed that eliminating those resources from state colleges would remove support that is necessary for “a wide variety of students.”
University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson addressed the legislation during a House subcommittee meeting. She said that educators need to be thinking about DEI in “an expansive way, not just about race, not just about gender, but about things like learning disabilities.”
Supporters of the legislation said that DEI programs create race-based favoritism, and that funds should be directed “for the true benefit of students” instead.
The Iowa bill would also redirect DEI funds towards reducing tuition, and increasing scholarships, so that more students are able to attend state universities.
Collins took to Twitter to explain that the legislation aims to “return Iowa’s higher education institutions’ focus back to academic excellence.”
This legislation follows the state’s passing of the Students First Act, which allows money to follow students throughout the state of Iowa to the schools that they choose to attend. The Republican-led state have been one of the few to pass expansive school choice laws for K-12 students.
Other states and colleges have also been implementing initiatives against DEI. In February, the University of North Carolina’s board of Governors had voted against DEI agendas, as well as Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) pushing to cut funding for DEI and critical race theory programs throughout the state of Florida.
The Iowa legislation is now awaiting approval in the state’s lower chamber.