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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

DeSantis signs bill to defund DEI initiatives at Florida universities

Bill will prohibit emphasis of diversity among public colleges and universities

FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks after being sworn in to begin his second term during an inauguration ceremony outside the Old Capitol on Jan. 3, 2023, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks after being sworn in to begin his second term during an inauguration ceremony outside the Old Capitol on Jan. 3, 2023, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law Monday that limits the state’s colleges and universities from spending money on diversity, equity and inclusion programs. 

DeSantis announced he signed the bill at a news conference at the New College of Florida in Sarasota.

“If you look at the way this has actually been implemented across the country, DEI is better viewed as standing for discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination,” DeSantis said during the news conference. “That has no place in our public institutions. This bill says the whole experiment with DEI is coming to an end in the state of Florida.”

DeSantis initially announced plans for defunding DEI programs back in January. Reasons for the defunding stem from DeSantis’ belief of the institutions’ alleged promotion of liberal agendas and an emphasis on racial division among faculty and students. 

The new law prohibits public institutions from spending state or federal money on DEI programs. These programs have contributed to the increase of student and staff diversity, which ranges from race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and religion, according to the Washington Post. 

The law will also deny public colleges from offering courses that “distort significant historical events,” teach “identity politics,” or are “based on theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, or privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, or economic inequities.”

Rep. Alexander Andrade (R-Pensacola), who represents the state's 2nd House district, first proposed the bill.  Andrade is a UF Levin College of Law alumni.

Students looking to study “niche subjects,” like critical race theory, should look elsewhere, DeSantis said.

“Florida is getting out of that game,” DeSantis said.

There’s been counteraction to the bill at both the state and national level. 

“It’s basically state-mandated censorship, which has no place in a democracy,” Irene Mulvey, president of the American Association of University Professors, said in a recent interview with The Washington Post.

DeSantis announced back in January all students will be required to take classes focusing on the history and philosophy of western civilization. 

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Contact Nicole at nbeltran@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @nicolebeltg.

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Nicole Beltran

Nicole Beltran is a second-year journalism and economics major, and she's the caimán desk editor this semester. In her free time, she enjoys reading, journaling, and watching musicals.


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