The Battle Over DEI Offices: Utah Lawmakers Push For Elimination
Utah Tech University’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion office could be no more after the 2024 Utah Legislative sessions.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported on anti-DEI bills that could impact the state's public universities. More conservative Utah lawmakers are happy to have Governor Spencer Cox’s Support on the matter. The reason is that Cox hasn’t seen any outcome from the funding that goes to the offices. Some universities also have forms that require one to put their beliefs on equity before hiring.
“I can assure you after this legislative session, it will not be happening here in the state of Utah,” Cox said.
The DEI offices at Utah’s eight public universities are meant to help underrepresented communities/students on their campuses.
There are some lawmakers like Sen. John Johnson R-Ogden, who are leading the charge to eliminate offices like DEI. Johnson is also looking to end racism talks in K-12 schools. He said he wants fairness for all and told the SLT that having offices that support Latino or black students, creates division and exclusion.
“We need to focus efforts at universities on students and individuals, rather than groups,” he said. “It needs to be focused and fair to everyone”
Another lawmaker, Rep. Katy Hall R-South Ogden, wants to run a bill during this session that would keep K-12 and public universities from asking applicants “anything about their work to further inclusion and diversity.”
Lastly, Rep. Rim Jimenez R-Tooele wants to introduce a bill that would make sure public and private employers don't require employees to sign any forms that have to do with agreeing with beliefs on diversity or inclusion.
This legislative session will be interesting with just these three bills being introduced and the backing of Governor Cox.
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Gallery Credit: Chris Cardenas