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Victory! Goldwater Defeats DEI in Iowa

May 16, 2024

Iowa is the latest state where Goldwater has defeated the scourge of discriminatory “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) initiatives taking over public higher education. The state adopted a Goldwater Institute reform, which Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law last week, that abolishes DEI bureaucracies at public universities—building on the Iowa Board of Regents’ decision to cut most DEI programs in November. And the news follows similar actions in North Carolina and Wyoming in the past week, as decisionmakers across the country realize that wasteful and toxic DEI programs have no place at public institutions of higher education.

Iowa’s legislation is based closely on the recommendations of the Goldwater Institute and the Manhattan Institute for abolishing DEI bureaucracies—a policy that clearly defines the actions that are prohibited. This specificity prevents universities from sidestepping DEI prohibitions by simply renaming or reorganizing existing DEI positions and programs. As Steve McGuire, an expert on academic freedom at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, commented, “One of the chief contributions of the anti-DEI legislation in Iowa is to define DEI (and thus what is banned).” Among other actions, the Iowa legislation prohibits:

  • “Any effort to promote differential treatment of or provide special benefits to individuals on the basis of race, color, or ethnicity.”
  • “Any effort to promote or promulgate policies and procedures designed or implemented with reference to race, color, or ethnicity.”
  • Attempts to have a public university take an official position on several widely disputed ideas, including “microaggressions,” “social justice,” “intersectionality,” and “neo-pronouns.”

Across all 50 states, Goldwater will continue to advocate for our reforms that help to restore public universities to their core missions: the pursuit of truth and the education of thoughtful citizens.

Timothy K. Minella is a Senior Fellow at the Goldwater Institute’s Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy.



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