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Idaho anti-DEI bill in higher ed could have 'ripple effects' for state

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Eric Tegethoff

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(Northern Rockies News Service) Idaho lawmakers are considering a measure that would eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion programs on college campuses.

Critics say it could keep potential students from attending school in the state. Senate Bill 1357 would prohibit the use of state funds for DEI, and DEI offices from operating at colleges and universities.

Nick Koenig is a PhD student in geography at the University of Idaho.

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"These positions that are trying to be taken away from this bill are specifically to foster student success on campus," said Koenig, "not just for students from marginalized groups but also just the totality of the campus community."

Lawmakers supporting the bill say eliminating DEI programs would save the state more than $3 million.

But Koenig said the consequences of eliminating these positions will have ripple effects. He said he spoke with the LGBTQ office at the University of Idaho before deciding to attend.

"The person I originally chatted with before coming to this university," said Koenig, "if her position was just not there, I would not have come to this university at all."

Koenig said the legislation would also make it hard to recruit people to colleges and universities in Idaho.

"People go to school say that they can see themselves as COOs or as teachers or as sociologists or as geographers, like in my case," said Koenig, "and if I saw that they're actively trying to remove me as a queer person from the state then, yeah, why would I want to spend four years in a state that wants to remove me as a person?"

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.