SALT LAKE CITY — On Monday, two bills, including one Senate bill and one House bill gained attention, as both hit on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The Utah Black Roundtable came together before the bills moved to committee to discuss why they believe so strongly against the bills.
Diversity. Equity. Inclusion.
These are the words that came up again and again when discussing SB283, “Prohibiting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Higher Education.” As written, the bill prohibits the funding or maintenance of diversity, equity, and inclusion offices or officers in the system of higher education. It is something the statewide coalition, Utah Black Roundtable, is strongly against.
Before committee, some brought up this bill prevents the opportunity for minorities to be seen and heard. They said it also limits access and support in educational settings, and ultimately, shows Utah taking a step back in history.
“When we have diversity, equity and inclusion, we are including everyone – regardless of their background, race, color or creed,” Darlene McDonald, UBR Community Engagement Chair said.
The bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. John Johnson, who said he believes there is a need to focus our education on teaching students how to think and not what to think – an important part of higher education.
He said this bill opens the door to conversation and digging deeper into how #11.7 million are spent — and could be spent — on higher education.
“All I’m talking about is, let’s have a robust discussion about the cost of this versus the benefits versus how else could we do this to protect academic freedom?” Johnson said.
On Monday, the committee decided more engaging and insightful conversation from all parties is needed before taking any more steps forward. The bill will go now to the Senate education committee.
The House and Senate Democratic caucuses released a joint statement today urging their colleagues to reconsider bills which remove efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion.
It said in part:
…We stand in solidarity with people of color in Utah and across the nation, and we will continue to work toward a future where everyone can thrive…
The bill’s sponsor said it could be this summer before anything happens.