The New College of Florida Board of Trustees voted during a Feb. 28 meeting to abolish the college’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) office and programming.
Those opposing the Board’s new conservative direction participated in a “heated public comment session” during the meeting as well as an accompanying rally–one of several recent protests, according to CNN.
During the comment session, The Orlando Sentinel reported the testimony from New College theater and performance studies professor Diego Villada: “I would hate for you to be making systemic decisions based on the work of board members who are citing themselves in a politically minded think-tank piece from non-empirically approached and non-peer-reviewed scholarship.”
The Board’s recommended DEI changes are reminiscent of reporting from trustee Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Rufo, one of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ six new appointees, focuses on the presence of DEI and critical race theory (CRT) in K-12 and higher education, ideologies that he says are promoted by “sprawling diversity bureaucrac[ies],” according to his article in City Journal.
In one of the proposals, dubbed by the trustees as “Abolish DEI Bureaucracies,” the Board sets its sights on the New College’s Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence (OOIE). The changes would eliminate the office–which has a $442,227 budget, according to the Board meeting agenda–and move its staff into residence life, financial aid, and other non-DEI functions at the college.
DEI changes would also end mandatory diversity training, including barring “any mention of Diversity Statements or the identification of underrepresented groups” when training faculty search committees.
Faculty hiring would no longer involve “mandatory diversity statements,” with trustees asking human resources “to withhold applicants’ diversity statements” in “any positions with active applicants.” The trustees reviewed New College’s admissions and job application materials to ensure that the college does not rely on identity-based preferences.
The Board’s vote to abolish DEI follows other sweeping changes at New College. After DeSantis’ new trustees joined the Board, they elected former Republican State House Speaker and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran as interim president of New College.
Changes at New College possibly signal the end of DEI at Florida’s public colleges and universities. HB 999, filed on Feb. 21, stems from DeSantis’ legislative agenda, and among its provisions is the prohibition of spending–regardless of source–on DEI programs.
The bill would also ban CRT from general education courses and subject tenured faculty to review by boards of trustees. If passed, the bill would end ideology-laden courses of study, particularly “any major or minor in Critical Race Theory, Gender Studies, or Intersectionality, or any derivative major or minor of these belief systems.”
Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly.
Republished with permission from Campus Reform