A bill passed by an Iowa House committee and currently making its way through the State House aims to put a stop to the woke agenda in state colleges and universities by prohibiting the schools from spending on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) offices and personnel working in roles associated with such ideology.
“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,” Iowa State Representative Taylor Collins told Fox News. “Under the guise of diversity and inclusion, these programs work to indoctrinate students into their preferred political ideology.”
It’s happening – we will dismantle the DEI bureaucracy and return Iowa’s higher education institutions’ focus back to academic excellence. pic.twitter.com/mNDUlS0Sln
— Rep. Taylor Collins (@TaylorCollinsIA) February 28, 2023
House File 616 states its purpose is to prohibit “institutions of higher learning governed by the state board of regents from expending moneys to fund diversity, equity, and inclusion offices or to hire individuals to serve as diversity, equity, and inclusion officers, creating a private cause of action, and including effective date provisions.”
“It’s happening – we will dismantle the DEI bureaucracy and return Iowa’s higher education institutions’ focus back to academic excellence,” Collins tweeted when the bill was introduced.
“’Diversity, equity, and inclusion office’ means any division, office, center, or other unit of a public institution of higher education that is responsible for creating, developing, designing, implementing, organizing, planning, or promoting policies, programming, training, practices, activities, or procedures related to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” the bill states.
Excluded from the definition of “DEI office” are attorneys who handle a school’s Title IX legal compliance; an academic department “that exists primarily for the purpose of offering courses for degree credit and that does not establish a policy or procedures to which other departments of the public institution of higher education are subject”; offices that conduct student recruitment; registered student organizations; and an office a school is required to maintain due to a “contract or agreement with a federal governmental entity.”
Iowa House File 616 would also redirect DEI funding toward reducing in-state tuition and other scholarships for students from lower- and middle-income families.
“This bill aims to dismantle these DEI programs and ensure this money is being spent for the true benefit of students,” Collins also told Fox News.
The University of Iowa’s DEI office defines “diversity” as referring to “all aspects of human difference, social identities, and social group differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, creed, color, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual identity, socio-economic status, language, culture, national origin, religion/spirituality, age, (dis)ability, and military/veteran status, political perspective, and associational preferences.”
“Equity” is defined at the school as “fair and just practices and policies that ensure all campus community members can thrive.”
“Equity is different than equality in that equality implies treating everyone as if their experiences are exactly the same,” the school’s DEI office rationalizes. “Being equitable means acknowledging and addressing structural inequalities — historic and current — that advantage some and disadvantage others. Equal treatment results in equity only if everyone starts with equal access to opportunities.”
As The Star News Network reported Monday, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights wrote last week to Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH-13), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, with the warning that Joe Biden’s sweeping executive order embedding radical equity ideology in all agencies of the executive branch is a “Trojan Horse” that represents “a major step toward socialism.”
Peter Kirsanow highlighted in his letter to Jordan that while “the key promise of civil rights statutes is equal opportunity,” civil rights still “do not promise equal outcomes.”
“Since we are all different, the only way to achieve equal outcomes is by putting a thumb on the scale, i.e., through some form of discrimination,” Kirsanow wrote. “Discrimination on the basis of skill, hard work, and proficiency is necessary and lawful. Discrimination on the basis of immutable characteristics unrelated to performance is idiotic and unlawful.”
A labor and employment attorney, Kirsanow asserted there are “multiple problems with, and questions raised by” the definition of equity used by woke ideologues.
“First, why the use of the term ‘equity’ instead of ‘equality?’” he asked. “Clearly, because ‘equality’ means treating everyone the same, and ‘equity’ means ensuring that outcomes are the same.”
The Iowa Star reached out to Collins to ask if DEI courses and research could still be funded if the legislation passes, and whether such provisions could ultimately undermine the intent of the measure. No immediate response was received.
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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Taylor Collins” by Taylor Collins. Background Photo “University of Iowa Campus” by University of Iowa.