The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, announced on Tuesday that he plans to forbid state colleges from funding diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in the hope that they will “wither on the vine” without funding.
In a speech in Bradenton, Florida, the Republican remarked, “It truly functions as an ideological filter, a political filter.”
The proposal is a top priority for DeSantis’ higher education agenda this year, which also calls for giving politically appointed university presidents and boards of trustees more control over hiring and firing policy as well as urging institutions to concentrate their missions on Florida’s future workforce needs.
DeSantis’ popularity among conservatives around the country has increased as a result of his outspoken stands on contentious cultural and educational topics. He is said to be considering a 2024 presidential run.
The governor’s office labeled diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives as “discriminatory” in a press release announcing the proposed law and pledged to forbid institutions from funding them, even if the money doesn’t come from the state.
Programs promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion are designed to enhance multiculturalism and make all students feel at home on campuses, especially those from historically underrepresented areas.
The University of Florida, the top institution in the state, includes an office for accessibility and gender equity as well as a center for inclusion and multicultural engagement.
The governor’s office asked all public universities to account for all of their spending on programs and initiatives relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion or critical race theory in December, which served as a prelude to Tuesday’s revelation.
In Bradenton, which is 15 minutes away from New College of Florida, where DeSantis has appointed a contentious new board with the goal of transforming the institution into his conservative vision for higher education, DeSantis unveiled his higher education platform. DeSantis stated that he will allocate $15 million from his budget to restructuring New College and hiring faculty.
On Tuesday, when the new board met, there were demonstrations on campus.
In a blog post, Eddie Speir, one of DeSantis’ new board members, stated that he intended to propose in that meeting “terminating all contracts for faculty, staff, and administration” of the school, “and immediately rehiring those faculty, staff, and administration who fit in the new financial and business model.”
The two-year community college presidents of the state made a commitment earlier this month to not teach critical race theory in a vacuum and to “not fund or support any institutional practice, policy, or academic requirement that compels belief 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 imitated.” DeSantis’ announcement follows their commitment.
The move was described as a rejection of “‘woke’ diversity, equity, and inclusion [and] critical race theory views” by the state’s education department.