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Ron DeSantis Kills Diversity and Inclusion Programs at Florida Universities

Ron DeSantis Kills Diversity and Inclusion Programs at Florida Universities

<p>Ron DeSantis Kills Diversity and Inclusion Programs at Florida Universities</p>

A number of students, including LGBTQ+ students, protested the event.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation that puts an end to diversity, equity and inclusiveness programs at the state’s colleges and universities.

The likely presidential candidate signed the bill at New College of Florida, which reportedly has one of the highest percentages of trans students in Florida. The small state university has become the subject of national controversy since DeSantis appointed new trustees including Chris Rufo, an anti-LGBTQ+ activist present at the bill’s signing.

DeSantis called DEI initiatives a “relatively new concept” poisoning American academia.

“In reality, what this concept of DEI has been is the attempt to impose orthodoxy on the university and not even necessarily in the classroom, but through the administrative apparatus of the university itself,” he said.

The governor also specifically attacked “gender ideology,” and signed legislation that won’t allow classes on such topics to be taught in Florida higher education institutions.

“If you want to do things like gender ideology, go to Berkeley, go to some of these other places,” he said. “That's fine.”

A number of students, including LGBTQ+ students, protested the event, as noted by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. One queer student was photographed holding a sign reading “Fascists not welcomed.”

Inside the event, conservative speakers suggested diversity efforts in fact created an authoritarian atmosphere on university campuses.

Rufo, a close ally of DeSantis, said liberal orthodoxy had infected campuses since the 1960s. He disparaged movements that led to the expansion of civil rights.

“They captured institutions with their ideology. They showed contempt for the voters who were paying their salaries and for many decades,” he said. “Unfortunately, conservatives did nothing. They were intimidated by this for lack of another explanation.”

Florida Rep. Spencer Roach, a Republican who sponsored the bill eliminating DEI from institutions, mocked protests outside the event. “What’s going on outside, that’s what woke sounds like when it dies,” he said.

He suggested the only diversity Florida’s universities needed was a variety of viewpoints. “These universities for too long have placed a premium on people that look different, but think the same, and that's not diversity,” he said.

But the changes could actually threaten whether Florida’s universities remain accredited. Some higher education experts have scoffed at Florida policymakers demanding an end to programs the university accreditors require.

“If Florida has the right to destroy its universities, do those universities have any particular right to be accredited?” asked former Macalester College President Brian Rosenberg in an op-ed in Inside Higher Ed.

Groups like Out & Equal recommend DEI programs at institutions, and programs exist at universities even in conservative Southern states.

President Joe Biden issued an executive order in 2021 promoting DEI at all institutions accepting federal funding. That includes many Florida universities conducting research financed with grants.
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