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These 2 Utah universities are eliminating all cultural centers — going beyond the state’s anti-DEI requirements

University of Utah students, from left, Bryce Cheek, Zoe Weatherington and Maya Lebar march down State Street with other attendees down during the Rainbow March and Rally held in downtown Salt Lake City as part of Utah Pride Week on Sunday, June 6, 2021. The U. will now be eliminating its LGBT Resource Center, along with other offices for marginalized students, as it shifts to align with the state's anti-DEI law.
Isaac Hale
/
Salt Lake Tribune
University of Utah students, from left, Bryce Cheek, Zoe Weatherington and Maya Lebar march down State Street with other attendees down during the Rainbow March and Rally held in downtown Salt Lake City as part of Utah Pride Week on Sunday, June 6, 2021. The U. will now be eliminating its LGBT Resource Center, along with other offices for marginalized students, as it shifts to align with the state's anti-DEI law.

The University of Utah and Weber State University are making extensive changes under HB261.

Black students will no longer have a dedicated center at the University of Utah where they can go for support or to talk about experiencing racism with someone who’s been through the same.

Women, too, will also lose their space at the flagship school that was devoted to their unique challenges, such as coping in the aftermath of a sex assault (which women are disproportionately more affected by). And those in the LGBTQ+ community — many of whom have described their center at the U. as their only safe spot on campus — will see theirs eliminated, as well.

The U. announced late last week that all three centers will be disbanded as the university reorganizes to comply with the state’s anti-DEI law.

It’s the second public school in the state — following Weber State University — to take such a hardline, far-reaching approach to the new conservative-backed requirements around limiting diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in education. Both universities are taking action to eliminate cultural programs beyond what the state’s new law mandates.

That law, HB261, passed in the most recent legislative session and was signed by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox. It takes effect in a week, on July 1, and schools are expected to outline how they will realign their programs.

Colleges and universities were explicitly allowed to keep cultural centers open, according to the law, as long as the centers were open to students from all backgrounds and focused on education instead of providing resources. For instance, there could be a Black cultural center, as long as white students could also attend events there. A women’s center could continue to operate if male students could also seek information there.

Read the full story at sltrib.com.

This article is published through the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of news organizations in Utah that aims to inform readers across the state.