Florida DEI law for public universities puts private schools on alert

Law eliminates funding for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and classes

DELAND, Fla. – At New College of Florida in Sarasota Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a measure that could change how public colleges and universities operate in the state.

The law is aimed at eliminating diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in higher education.

“DEI is better viewed as standing for ‘discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination’,” DeSantis said.

He said it has no place in public institutions.

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The law prohibits Florida schools from using state or federal dollars on programs that promote DEI.

It also eliminates college courses that deviate from the “classical mission of what a university should be,” which can include gender or ethnic studies classes.

Dr. Melinda Hall, an associate professor and chair of philosophy at Stetson University in DeLand, said although private universities and colleges aren’t impacted by this law, it’s only a matter of time before private institutions are touched.

Hall said she is disappointed in the increasing invasion of classrooms.

“I think it’s deeply shocking to suggest that college students, adults, that they should not be able to ask particular questions and not be able to learn particular text,” Hall said.

Hall said what DeSantis is doing goes against academic freedom.

“I think that any time that you’re saying something can’t be on a syllabus, that’s the indoctrination,” Hall said.

Some of Hall’s instruction includes gender studies. That is a course in danger of being removed from public colleges.

“Whenever people use the language of gender studies in this climate, they seem to be indicating a core set of beliefs about how to live, but that’s far from accurate,” Hall said. “Gender studies can take a lot of different forms.”

DeSantis welcomed students who don’t like these policies to search elsewhere for education.

“If you want to do things like gender ideology, go to (University of California, Berkeley). Go to some of these other places, that’s fine,” DeSantis said.

Hall is sure this latest move will be a determining factor for matriculating students narrowing down their school search.

“I think no doubt in my mind whatsoever that students want to be able to learn and that this will dissuade them,” Hall said.

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Treasure joined News 6 at the start of 2021, coming to the Sunshine State from Michigan.