To watch the roundtable discussion, click here.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis held a roundtable discussion on divisive concepts such as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, Critical Race Theory (CRT) and the impact that these concepts have had on Florida higher education institutions and the students that attend them. These concepts are in no way inclusive, and instead force exclusion and division within higher education, and do not in any way contribute to learning or knowledge; as such, no funding from hardworking, tax-paying Floridians, including the parents of higher-education students, should be spent on these divisive initiatives. Roundtable participants included Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr.; State University System Chancellor Ray Rodrigues; Christopher Rufo, New College of Florida Board of Trustees; Scott Yenor of the Claremont Institute; Carrie Sheffield from the Independent Women’s Forum; Debra Jenks, Chairwoman of the New College of Florida Board of Trustees; Roger Tovar, Vice Chair of the Florida International University Board of Trustees; and students who have been impacted by DEI initiatives.
“In Florida, we are not going to back down to the woke mob, and we will expose the scams they are trying to push onto students across the country,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Florida students will receive an education, not a political indoctrination.”
“DEI divides students and at its very core is the antithesis to its so-called mission,” said Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. “These initiatives have completely transformed over the years, from what were once simple efforts to ensure equal access to all students, to now focusing on ideology over merit. Thank you to Governor DeSantis for hosting this important roundtable event as we work to eliminate DEI from colleges and universities in Florida.”
“It is time that we refocus our efforts towards the distinct mission of higher education — the pursuit of truth, the communication of that truth, which is teaching, and the selfless act of others, which is service,” said Ray Rodrigues, Chancellor of the State University System of Florida. “We value academic excellence, and therefore merit-based outcomes, instead of liberal ideologies, will be prioritized for all of our students across the System.”
At the event, Scott Yenor, from the Claremont Institute’s Center for the American Way of Life, unveiled his report “Florida Universities: From Woke to Professionalism.” The report documents DEI initiatives across Florida’s public universities and outlines strategies to end curriculum changes that lean towards anti-American DEI principles.
“Almost all of the institutions in Florida have strategic plans that include some sort of diversity, equity, inclusion ambition in it. Almost all of them have a central administrator dedicated to DEI. These are just tip-offs to deeper things that are going on at the university,” said Scott Yenor, Claremont Institute’s Center for the American Way of Life. “DEI is pervasive in universities because of the complacency of the political establishment and the educational establishment. This is why people are excited about Governor DeSantis’ leadership and the Board of Governors’ leadership here in Florida, because we consider this ideology to be a clear and present danger for America’s future.”
“I would say the first thing to understand about DEI is that what it’s become in practice is a vehicle for left wing political activists to hijack public resources and turn universities away from the pursuit of knowledge toward the pursuit of their own private political interests,” said Christopher Rufo, New College of Florida Board of Trustees. “I think that what we need to do is take a look at the specifics and get beyond the Orwellian word games that sound good in theory and really understand what do these offices do, and is it a good use of public resources? I think what we will all find is that it is not, and we’re here to figure out what to do about it.”
“DEI is trying to paper over what the left did to destroy our culture and the policies they created. DEI tries to bring more socialism, and that’s the definition of insanity,” said Carrie Sheffield, Senior Fellow, Independent Women’s Forum. “DEI is just one extension of a bandaid approach to try to paper over what Democrats have done to African Americans in this country. Policy is downstream from culture, and the left has taken over our culture.”
To further protect students and faculty from having to participate in DEI and CRT centered initiatives and trainings at higher education institutions, the Governor has proposed legislation to prohibit state colleges and universities from funding DEI programs or activities and prohibit general education courses that distort historical events or that use instruction from CRT and establish new standards and adoption procedures for these courses.
Additionally, the legislation prohibits the solicitation of pledges or commitments to DEI, CRT or any political viewpoint as a condition of hiring, promotion, disciplinary action or evaluation process. The legislation also seeks to bolster University Boards of Trustees by permitting the review of a faculty member’s tenure status at the request of the Board chairs.