DeSantis proposes banning diversity and inclusion initiatives at Florida universities


Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that he intends to bar public universities from spending money on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in the hope that they will “wither on the vine” without funding.

“It really serves as an ideological filter, a political filter,” the Republican said while speaking in Bradenton, Florida.

The proposal is of top priority for The DeSantis Graduate Program this year, which also includes giving politically appointed presidents and university boards more power in university hiring and firing and calls on schools to focus their missions on Florida’s future workforce needs. DeSantis, who is said to be considering a potential run for president in 2024, has seen his standing among conservatives jump across the country following his public stances on hot-button cultural and education issues.

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IN press release on the announced legislation, the governor’s office called diversity, equity and inclusion programs “discriminatory” and vowed to prohibit universities from funding them even if the source of the money does not come from the state.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs are designed to promote multiculturalism and encourage students of all races and backgrounds to feel comfortable in a campus setting, especially those from traditionally underrepresented communities. The state’s flagship school, the University of Florida, has a Chief Diversity Officer, a Center for Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement, and an Office of Accessibility and Gender Equity.

Tuesday’s announcement was foreshadowed in December, when the governor’s office asked all public universities to report all their spending on programs and initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion or critical race theory.

DeSantis announced his graduate program in Bradenton, a 15-minute drive from New College of Florida, a public liberal arts college where DeSantis has installed controversial new board with a mandate to remake the school in his conservative vision of higher education. DeSantis said his budget would include $15 million to restructure New College and hire faculty.

The new board met Tuesday, leading to campus protests.

One of DeSantis’ new board members, Eddie Speir, writes in an online publication that he plans to propose at that meeting “termination of all faculty, staff and administration contracts” of the school “and the immediate rehiring of those faculty, staff and administration that fit the new financial and business model.”

DeSantis’ announcement follows a commitment made earlier this month by the presidents of the state’s two-year community colleges not to teach critical race theory in a vacuum and to “not fund or support any institutional practices, policies, or academic requirements that impose faith in critical race theory or related concepts such as intersectionality, or the idea that systems of oppression should be the primary lens through which teaching and learning are analyzed and/or improved.”

State Department of Education characterizes the movement as a rejection of ‘woke’ diversity, equity and inclusion [and] ideologies of critical race theory.’

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