Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation on Monday that bans state funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs in Florida’s universities. DeSantis enacted the law on the campus of New College of Florida amid protests from students, saying that DEI more accurately stands for “discrimination, exclusion, and indoctrination.”
This law also prohibits the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) or gender ideology, stating that classes “may not distort significant historical events or include a curriculum that teaches identity politics.”
The bill puts an end to the DEI-fueled insanity that have been occurring in Florida’s higher-ed institutions. Universities in Florida have used DEI to oppose merit-based faculty hiring, endorse “explicit racial discrimination and racial quotas,” “denounc[e]” the United States as a nation of “white supremacy,” and train students to engage in left-wing protests and related activism. The University of Florida alone “had created more than 1,000 separate DEI initiatives,” explained Christopher Rufo, an anti-woke activist who has been at the forefront of battles against CRT and DEI and who spoke at the signing of the bill. “This legislation … will immediately abolish all of these programs,” he said. “Done.”
Today, Florida abolished the DEI bureaucracy and restored colorblind equality in all of its public universities.
I stood with Gov. DeSantis to celebrate this historic victory, putting the pursuit of truth—not left-wing ideology—back to the center of academic life. pic.twitter.com/v3TQq8pTZo
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) May 15, 2023
As of this year, Rufo is a board member of New College. In early January, DeSantis cleaned house at New College, appointing six new members to the board of trustees with the goal of transforming the school into a classical college. On Feb. 28, the board voted to abolish the school’s DEI apparatus.
“[DEI] has basically been used as a veneer to impose an ideological agenda and that is wrong,” DeSantis said. He continued:
It’s our view that when the taxpayers are funding these institutions, that we as Floridians and we as taxpayers have every right to insist that they are following a mission that is consistent with the best interests of our people and our state.…
You don’t just get to take taxpayer dollars and do whatever the heck you want to do and think that’s somehow OK.
DeSantis also signed HB 931, which ends “woke litmus tests” and prohibits universities from requiring students, faculty, or staff to sign statements supporting DEI. (READ MORE: In Defense of Florida’s Action Against a Very Political Mouse)
Predictably, the new ban on DEI funding has elicited protests from the left. “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,” said Democratic state Senate leader Lauren Book.
What Book doesn’t seem to grasp, however, is that partisan politics aren’t an obstacle; rather, they’re precisely the mechanism of government that the founders gave us. Reelected with the largest margin of any Florida governor in 40 years, DeSantis doesn’t stand alone — far from it. Rather, this newly enacted law, passed by Florida’s state Senate and House of Representatives before it was signed by the governor, is a prime example of the “democracy” that the Left claims to care so much about.
Mary Frances Myler is a postgraduate fellow with the Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government.
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