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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Florida removes sociology from general education, bans state funding for DEI programs

Florida Board of Governors approved the two regulations following public comments demanding reconsideration

The Florida Board of Governors approved regulations removing sociology from general education requirements and eliminating state and federal funding for diversity, equity and inclusion programs at its meeting Wednesday afternoon.

Sociology courses will remain available to students but will not be required under Regulation 8.005. The board first removed principles of sociology from general education core course options at its Nov. 9 meeting before voting for final approval Wednesday.

The board also approved Regulation 9.016, which prohibits universities from using state or federal funds to support campus activities that advocate DEI or “political or social activism.” The regulation defines social activism as an activity organized to change a government policy or achieve a social issue.

The board clarified during its meeting that university student governments will still be allowed to fund these programs — as long as the money is not state-granted.

A 2022 audit of UF spending revealed the university dedicated $5 million, or 0.14% of its projected annual budget, to DEI initiatives that year.

A series of Florida university students, alumni and faculty took to the stand during public comment to defend sociology and DEI, claiming the former inspires critical thinking, which is transferable to any future career.

Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-42) also made a special appearance to oppose both regulations.

“My twin sister, who’s in the overflow room, was a sociology major, and we’re both incredibly successful, bright young people,” she said. “And so I just want to share the importance and impact of sociology when it comes to strong educational experiences.”

Board member Jack Hitchcock, an FSU student and chair of the Florida Student Association, could not support the removal of sociology because he hasn’t seen any data showing students who take sociology are less successful than students who choose other courses, he said.

The regulation may harm students whose majors require sociology, said Amanda Phalin, a UF business professor and board member who voted in opposition. Last semester, 348 UF students “double dipped” and took sociology to count for both a major and general education requirement, Phalin said. The regulation hasn’t considered how these students’ transcripts will be affected, she said.

As a public institution, UF will fully comply with state legislation and regulations, said UF Sspokesperson Steve Orlando in a statement on the DEI de-funding regulation. 

“Because Gators believe in universal dignity and the immeasurable worth of every individual, we will continue to foster a community that is built on trust and respect and is committed to academic excellence,” the statement read.

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It is unclear how the DEI regulation will affect Chief Diversity Officer Marsha McGriff, who is salaried at $300,000, or the rest of the Chief Diversity Office — which was allocated over $700,000 in state funding for the 2022-23 projected UF budget, according to the audit.

Contact Zoey Thomas at Follow her on X @zoeythomas39.

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Zoey Thomas

Zoey Thomas is a second-year media production major and the university administration reporter for The Alligator. She previously wrote for the metro desk. Other than reporter, Zoey's titles include espresso connoisseur, long-distance runner and Wes Anderson appreciator. 

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