The office of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis charged Thursday that state universities drastically under-reported diversity, equity, and inclusion spending after the Republican leader told administrators to provide state lawmakers with the data.
DeSantis, who entered a second term as chief executive last month after a landslide re-election victory, asked public university officials to produce an account of expenditures related to DEI initiatives as lawmakers consider budget proposals for the new year. He revealed on Tuesday that his office would work to “eliminate all DEI and Critical Race Theory bureaucracies in the state of Florida” and force the departments to “wither on the vine.”
A notice from DeSantis Press Secretary Bryan Griffin provided to The Daily Wire said that administrators charged with accounting for the expenditures “significantly misreported and under-reported” the information.
“These bureaucracies are more interested in protecting their status quo and furthering their agenda rather than delivering a quality education to Florida’s students,” Griffin said in the notice, adding that DeSantis would work to “ensure that a full and truthful compilation” of the initiatives are gathered.
The University of Florida, for example, entirely neglected to report spending related to its “Youth Gender Project,” under which officials educate “patients and their families about gender identity development and gender nonconformity and offer services for social and medical transitioning.”
Griffin added that the programs that were reported ultimately “revealed an extraordinary misuse of taxpayer dollars to promote a political agenda at the expense of academic focus.” He noted that the chief diversity officer and related support staff at the University of Florida are paid more than $750,000 per year, while the University of Central Florida’s vice president for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and her assistant earn a combined $445,000 annually.
The results from the audit correspond with previous revelations that diversity consultants and administrators often reap substantial salaries. Public universities in Michigan, Maryland, Virginia, and Illinois employed diversity officials who pocketed annual pay ranging from $329,000 to $430,000, according to a report from Fox News.
Among the diversity departments listed by Griffin were the Center for Environmental Equity and Justice at Florida A&M University, which costs $1.8 million per year; the Diversity and Inclusion Office at the University of South Florida, which costs over $1.1 million per year; and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Florida International University, which costs over $1 million per year. One of several DEI initiatives undertaken using taxpayer funds was a spreadsheet called “Antiracist Resources for White People” compiled by University of South Florida officials; readers are told that they should donate to bail funds and examine books by critical race theorists such as Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo.
The request from DeSantis regarding the DEI initiatives asked university administrators to include a brief description of each program, the total funding used to support the program, and the portion of the funding that came from taxpayer dollars. He recently commented that “DEI bureaucracies” are “hostile to academic freedom” and “constitute a drain on resources.”
“It really serves as an ideological filter,” DeSantis said, observing the compelled speech and political pressure that emerges on college campuses through diversity programs. “We probably are the first state that’s actually leading by example, but I can tell you those bureaucracies are not representative of what the people of this state and the taxpayers of this state want.”