State, Federal Funding of DEI Programs at Fla. Universities Banned

The board that oversees Florida’s 12 public universities voted Wednesday to ban using state or federal dollars for diversity programs or activities, aligning with a law signed last spring by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The state Board of Governors approved the regulation in a voice vote. The DeSantis-backed law is part of a broader Republican push nationwide to target diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in higher education. It also prohibits tax money from being used to fund “political or social activism,” although student fees can pay for that.

“It was said we were banning student organizations, and that’s not a fair statement,” said board vice chair Alan Levine.

The new law bans the use of taxpayer money to fund programs that promote “differential or preferential treatment of individuals, or classifies such individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation.” It also forbids instruction of 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.”

The state Board of Education adopted a similar policy last week for the 28 smaller Florida colleges, and both boards opted to replace sociology as a core requirement in favor of a U.S. history class, another education priority of conservatives.

“It is not being cut. If there’s a demand for sociology, that demand will be met,” said Board of Governors member Tim Cerio. “It’s just being removed as a core requirement.”

A state Education Department news release called the sociology change an effort to provide “an accurate and factual account of the nation’s past, rather than exposing them to radical woke ideologies.”

The law blocks public universities from diverting state or federal funds toward programs or campus activities that advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion or promote political or social activism.

DeSantis, who signed the DEI law before embarking on his suspended run for president, said last May that DEI programs promote a liberal “orthodoxy” on campus.

“This has basically been used as a veneer to impose an ideological agenda, and that is wrong,” the governor said.

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