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Iowa Bill Aims to Defund College DEI Efforts

By Josh Moody

Originally published March 2, 2023 in Inside Higher Ed

Iowa lawmakers are the latest to take aim at diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, with a Republican legislator filing a bill this week to ban spending on DEI efforts at state universities, according to The Gazette.

Filed Tuesday night, the bill would ban colleges from spending any state dollars on DEI. It would also require institutions to reallocate unspent money from current budget year away from campus DEI offices and toward scholarship programs instead.

DEI initiatives have increasingly come under fire from conservative lawmakers, many of whom conflate them with critical race theory, a once-obscure academic concept concerning issues of systemic and structural racism. Critics have claimed colleges and universities use CRT to promote a liberal historical view, tantamount to liberal indoctrination.

The move in Iowa follows similar anti-DEI efforts elsewhere, including in Florida and Texas.

Florida lawmakers, in particular, have battled against DEI on the macro and micro level, with Republican legislators pushing to defund DEI efforts at state universities in a recent bill. On Tuesday, conservative trustees at the New College of Florida voted to eliminate the college's DEI office.

Model legislation from the conservative Manhattan Institute think tank aims to take the fight national, providing a road map for officials to defund DEI initiatives at state universities.

Inside Higher Ed is the leading source for the latest news, analysis, and career services for the entire higher education community.

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