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University of Utah will close women’s, LGBT centers to comply with DEI ban

Institution says it’s reorganizing services under two new offices

The University of Utah will eliminate its women’s and LGBT centers while creating two new programs and renaming a third in what it announced Thursday as efforts to comply with legislation banning diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.

The Women’s Resource Center and LGBT Resource Center will close as a result of the “Equal Opportunity Initiatives” law, which goes into effect July 1, a news release states.

The legislation requires “student services [to] be available to all students and not provided to individual students based on ‘personal identity characteristics,’” according to the release.

The university also is creating two new programs: the Center for Student Access and Resources, and the Community and Cultural Engagement Center, the release states.

The cultural center is “pending approval from the Utah Board of Higher Education,” a requirement of the new law. If approved, its work will focus on “cultural education, celebration, engagement and awareness,” the university states.

The two new centers will offer similar “student services and cultural offerings” to those previously provided at the women’s and LGBT centers, although the services are being “reorganized” to comply with the law, according to the release.

Meanwhile, the institution also announced plans to rename its American Indian Resource Center; the new name will be the Center for Native Excellence and Tribal Engagement.

Despite the changes, the university did not eliminate any staff positions; however, “some of their job descriptions and work will change,” according to the release.

Additionally, “the Black Cultural Center building at Fort Douglas will remain open as a community gathering space,” and the school “will continue to celebrate Juneteenth, Martin Luther King Jr. Week, Pride Week, Women’s Week, and cultural heritage months,” it states.

Vice President for Student Affairs Lori McDonald said in the news release the changes involve more than just names.

“As we’ve evaluated how best to comply with the legislation, I want to be clear that we’ve faced very difficult decisions,” McDonald said. “The law and subsequent guidance require a foundational change in how we approach student support, and we will follow the law. This isn’t about changing the words we use; we’re changing how we approach the work.”

The law, which passed the state legislature this spring, eliminates diversity, equity and inclusion policies in Utah public universities and government agencies, The College Fix reported.

Among other things, it also prohibits public institutions from requiring adherence to a specific ideology as a condition for graduation or employment.

Another public university in Utah also is eliminating programs in response to the law.

Weber State University in Ogden recently announced plans to “eliminate seven cultural centers that had been geared to varied segments of the campus, including Black, Latino, female and LGBTQ students,” according to KSL.com.

MORE: Sweeping Utah bill to ban DEI advances in Republican-controlled statehouse

IMAGE: University of Utah/Facebook

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.