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Presidents of the Florida College System issued a statement vowing to nix diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, also known as DEI, and prioritize academic freedom after Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) launched an overhaul of the state’s universities.
DeSantis, who entered a second term as chief executive of the Sunshine State this month after a landslide re-election victory in November, recently asked public university administrators to provide a detailed account of expenditures related to DEI programs as members of the Florida legislature consider budget proposals. The statement from the Florida College System noted that DEI initiatives tend to advance left-wing ideologies and silence dissent.
“Our institutions will not fund or support any institutional practice, policy, or academic requirement that compels belief in critical race theory or related concepts such as intersectionality, or the idea that systems of oppression should be the primary lens through which teaching and learning are analyzed,” said a memo from the officials provided to The Daily Wire. “In the development of knowledge, research endeavors, and creative activities, a college faculty and student body must be free to cultivate a spirit of inquiry and scholarly criticism, and to examine ideas in an atmosphere of freedom and confidence.”
The statement also comes after DeSantis appointed a number of conservative officials to the New College of Florida Board of Trustees in the hopes that the public liberal arts school would likewise eliminate the controversial ideology. Among the appointees were Christopher Rufo, a fellow with the Manhattan Institute and an activist who has vocally opposed critical race theory, as well as Matthew Spalding, a constitutional government professor at Hillsdale College.
Presidents of the Florida College System remain “committed to developing campus environments that uphold objectivity in teaching and learning,” the statement continued. The officials also reaffirmed a “commitment to nondiscrimination in hiring” and a desire to cultivate “intellectual autonomy and equality.”
The rejection of DEI at Florida universities occurs as other universities promote the ideology. Students at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, one of the nation’s top business programs, are now able to earn majors in DEI.
Consultants and officials often garner significant financial returns from their promotion of the DEI movement within postsecondary institutions. Public universities in Michigan, Maryland, Virginia, and Illinois have employed diversity officials who pocketed salaries ranging from $329,000 to $430,000, according to a report from Fox News, while an analysis from the Heritage Foundation found that colleges hire an average of three diversity staffers for every 100 tenured faculty.
The request from DeSantis regarding 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.
“We must ensure school systems are responsive to parents and to students, not partisan interest groups, and we must ensure that our institutions of higher learning are focused on academic excellence and the pursuit of truth, not the imposition of trendy ideology,” DeSantis remarked during his second inaugural address. “We will enact more family-friendly policies to make it easier to raise children and we will defend our children against those who seek to rob them of their innocence.”