- Under a newly signed Florida law, public colleges are no longer permitted to spend money on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts for students, faculty or staff, effective July 1.
- Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has long made opposing DEI programs a focal point of his legislative agenda, on Monday signed the bill into law during a ceremony at the New College of Florida.
- The law also limits certain information Florida state colleges may teach, banning "theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, and economic inequities."
DeSantis, who is eyeing a 2024 presidential campaign and is widely considered to be a frontrunner if he declares, castigated university diversity programs as discriminatory in a Monday news conference at New College.
"What this concept of DEI has been is an attempt to impose orthodoxy on the university," he said. "DEI is better viewed as standing for discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination."
He also said DEI programs pull college resources away from bolstering academic offerings and hiring efforts.
The news conference's setting was apt, given that New College has undergone a conservative transformation under DeSantis' tenure.
In January, DeSantis appointed several right-wing allies to the college's board of trustees, who in turn fired the institution's president. New College's current interim president, Richard Corcoran, is a former state legislator, Florida education commissioner, and another DeSantis ally. Corcoran recently advised the board to deny tenure for five professors being considered. The trustees took his advice.
The board also eliminated the institution’s diversity office, portending the coming demise of similar programs across the state.
In addition to outlawing DEI spending, Florida's new law also sets limits on what curriculum can be taught at public colleges. For instance, general education courses may not "distort significant historical events or include a curriculum that teaches identity politics," according to the measure.
While the law does not directly mention critical race theory — an academic framework that examines racism's systemic nature — DeSantis nonetheless lambasted CRT on Monday.
"Some of these niche subjects like critical race theory, other types of DEI-infused courses and majors — Florida's getting out of the game. If you want to do things like gender ideology, go to Berkeley," DeSantis said, referring to the University of California campus that has consistently leaned left.
DeSantis also signed a separate bill on Monday that bans colleges from requiring DEI statements as part of enrollment or hiring processes. The law describes such a statement as a "political loyalty test" and allows the state's board of education and the board of governors to establish consequences for violating this new provision.