Florida Governor Signs Law Banning Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs at Public Universities

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed legislation that will ban state funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at the state’s public universities.[0] The governor staged the event at New College of Florida, which he has transformed into his own conservative higher education experiment.[1] The law also bars curriculums that teach “identity politics” or “theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, and economic inequities.” The provision is aimed at curtailing education about critical race theory, a way of thinking about US history through the lens of racism.[2]

At New College of Florida, a liberal arts school located in Sarasota, DeSantis signed the bills and revamped the board of trustees with the aim of converting the college into a conservative establishment.[3] To further DeSantis’ goal of transforming New College into a more conservative “classical” liberal arts institution, Republican legislators have approved an extra $34 million to be allocated to the campus.[4] The new higher education law (SB 266) bars public funding for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs and could eliminate courses on systemic racism, sexism, and oppression, giving sole authority to college and university presidents and the Boards of Trustees over faculty hiring.[5]

In a statement, Representative Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando) expressed that this law is harmful as it specifically aims at students from different backgrounds like herself, hindering their potential to succeed in higher education institutions.[6] “It also suppresses academic freedom and inserts conservative political orthodoxy into the classroom.” The legislation has also been criticized by Democratic leader Lauren Book in the state Senate, who said, “Governor DeSantis is treating freedom of speech as an enemy, and the Legislature allowed his partisan politics to get in the way of initiatives that have progressed us as a nation to allow students from diverse backgrounds and experiences be included in places where historically they have not been accepted.”[7]

The law also prohibits unions from collecting dues directly from members’ paychecks and increases membership requirements from 50% to 60% in order to be eligible for recertification. DeSantis has signed a new law that prohibits the state from directly deducting union dues from the paychecks of public employees. Instead, unions will be compelled to establish an expensive and tedious mechanism for gathering union dues through repeated credit card transactions.[8]

0. “What is DEI? What Florida’s new law defunding DEI programs means:” Pensacola News Journal, 15 May. 2023, https://www.pnj.com/story/news/politics/2023/05/15/what-is-dei-what-floridas-new-law-defunding-dei-programs-means/70219529007/

1. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis mocks protesters, bans diversity funding” USA TODAY, 15 May. 2023, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2023/05/15/florida-gov-ron-desantis-mocks-protesters-bans-diversity-funding/70219124007/

2. “‘If you want to do things like gender ideology, go to Berkeley’: DeSantis bans diversity, equity and inclusion in Florida colleges” The Mercury News, 15 May. 2023, https://www.mercurynews.com/2023/05/15/desantis-bans-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-in-colleges/

3. “DeSantis curtails diversity, equity and inclusion programs in Florida state colleges” WPBF West Palm Beach, 15 May. 2023, https://www.wpbf.com/article/desantis-curtails-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-programs-in-florida-state-colleges/43895637

4. “Florida’s ban on DEI spending becomes official as DeSantis enacts college reforms” POLITICO, 15 May. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/05/15/desantis-enacts-floridas-dei-ban-00096934

5. “DeSantis signs bill stripping funding for diversity, inclusion programs at Florida colleges” WESH 2 Orlando, 15 May. 2023, https://www.wesh.com/article/desantis-diversity-inclusion-programs-florida-colleges/43895044

6. “DeSantis bans funding for Florida college diversity programmes” Al Jazeera English, 15 May. 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/5/15/desantis-bans-funding-for-florida-college-diversity-programmes

7. “DeSantis signs bill banning funding for college diversity programs” Yahoo! Voices, 15 May. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/news/desantis-signs-bill-banning-funding-155147909.html

8. “Florida Strips Public Employees of Union Rights – Indiana…” Payday Report, 10 May. 2023, https://paydayreport.com/florida-strips-public-employees-of-union-rights-indiana-childcare-workers-strike-statewide-railroad-union-say-still-cant-use-sick-time/

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