OAN’s Brooke Mallory
6:08 PM – Monday, May 15, 2023
Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Monday that bans the Sunshine State’s public colleges from funding diversity, equality, and inclusion programs, prohibiting the way that race has been represented and taught in many courses.
The action is part of a larger conservative effort to tackle higher education DEI programs, which DeSantis and other notable GOP members claim promote liberal dogma and strengthen racial division.
However, proponents of the DEI programs argue that those lessons are essential for supporting the country’s increasingly diverse student populations.
“If you look at the way this has actually been implemented across the country, DEI is better viewed as standing for discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination… And that has no place in our public institutions. This bill says the whole experiment with DEI is coming to an end in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.
The new law in Florida forbids public colleges from using state or federal funds for DEI initiatives. It also increases the hiring authority of university presidents and boards of trustees.
Advocates of DEI funding claim that these programs frequently assist institutions in “increasing the diversity” of their student body and faculty, which could include curriculums speaking on sexual orientation, religion, and socioeconomic position, in addition to race and ethnicity.
Additionally, the legislation prohibits public colleges from offering general education courses that “distort significant historical events,” teach “identity politics,” or are “based on theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, or privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, or economic inequities.”
“What this does is reorient our universities back to their traditional mission and part of that traditional mission is to treat people as individuals, not to try to divvy them up based on any type of superficial characteristics,” DeSantis said.
Some higher education teachers and administrators claim that the state of Florida is trampling on academic freedom in response to the Florida law. In a recent interview, Irene Mulvey, president of the American Association of University Professors, said “It’s basically state-mandated censorship, which has no place in a democracy.”
Students interested in “niche subjects,” such as critical race theory (CRT), should look elsewhere, according to DeSantis.
“Florida’s getting out of that game… If you want to do things like study gender ideology, go to Berkeley. Go to some of these other places,” DeSantis declared.
On the Sarasota campus of New College of Florida, a public liberal arts school where DeSantis had just recently selected a group of Republican trustees, the governor decided to hold the signing ceremony there. One of the first tasks of the newly elected board was to close the DEI office at New College.
Angry protesters attended the event, and their chants could be heard during the bill-signing ceremony.
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