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New EDI guidance for campus

As the July 1 effective date of a new state law reshaping diversity initiatives at state colleges and universities approaches, University of Utah leaders provided more guidance about its implementation this week.

Since the end of the 2024 Utah Legislature, university leaders have been working internally across campus and in collaboration with the Utah System of Higher Education to review and assess the impacts of House Bill 261, “Equal Opportunity Initiatives.”

New guidance released this week includes information for faculty preparing syllabi and other course materials for the summer and fall semesters, foundational legal interpretations and updates to university hiring practices and staffing.

The most important to remember, university leaders say, the law will not change the university’s commitment to its core missions and a belief in the intrinsic value of every member of the U community.

“The unique life experiences and perspectives of our students, faculty and staff matter. These identities are what make the University of Utah a vibrant space for learning, teaching, conducting research and providing exceptional patient care,” said President Taylor Randall. “Our work is done one by one, with attention to individual needs—as we are each responsible for making the university a place where everyone can thrive.”

At the same time, Randall noted, the university is a public institution and will follow the new state law. Learn more about what will change and what remains the same, including:

Randall and other leaders spent many hours on Capitol Hill meeting and speaking with legislators before, during and after the lawmaking session, advocating on behalf of the university and its people.

“What I learned, and what the data demonstrates,” Randall said, “is that higher education has lost confidence among many of our stakeholders. They want us to listen and I have made the promise to do just that.”

The president said university leaders and faculty, as well as colleagues from other state colleges and universities, will have many opportunities to discuss and inform lawmakers about the issues raised by the implementation of HB 261. Randall also urged faculty and staff to avoid self-censoring. While the law restricts certain policies, activities and initiatives related to equity, diversity and inclusion, it also protects and even strengthens academic freedom, classroom instruction, research and accreditation.

The president’s cabinet will establish a “rapid response team” to answer questions and share regular updates with the campus. Interpretations of the law may change as USHE and state leaders provide feedback.

Finally, university leaders offered a few questions to consider when determining a path forward:

  • Does the work or endeavor use the terms equity, diversity and/or inclusion? If so, what language would better reflect the goals and priorities of the work?
  • Is the endeavor required under federal or state law for accreditation? If so, it’s most likely protected under the legislation and continuing the work is allowed.
  • Is the endeavor part of your course instruction or academic research? If so, it’s most likely protected under the legislation and continuing the work is allowed.
  • Is the program or endeavor open to all? If it isn’t, access should be made available to all members of the campus community.
  • Is the endeavor designed to avoid discrimination? If so, it’s most likely protected under the legislation and continuing the work is allowed.

After reading the guidance, community members with additional questions can email them to Please allow 48 hours for a response.