June 13, 2024

Florida State Colleges Banned From Using Public Funds For DEI As Outrage Against Programs Mounts


The Florida Board of Education announced Wednesday it passed a rule to permanently bar the state’s public universities from using public funds on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs—the latest instance of increasing pushback against such programs, which have raised the ire of prominent figures like Tesla CEO Elon Musk, hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Key Facts

Florida’s 28 state colleges can no longer use taxpayer funds to support DEI “programs, activities, and policies,” according to a Florida Board of Education statement.

The board defined DEI programs as ones that “categorize individuals based on race or sex for the purpose of differential or preferential treatment.”

Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. said in the board’s statement that the change will mean taxpayers’ money won’t support “DEI and radical indoctrination that promotes division in our society,” falling in line with anti-DEI stances taken by DeSantis, who last year signed a bill defunding diversity, equity and inclusion programs at state universities.

The department also announced it is replacing the college course “Principles of Sociology,” which tasks students with studying social issues, with an American history course that provides students with “an accurate and factual account of the nation’s past.”

Chief Critic

Lawyer and civil rights advocate Ben Crump said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Florida is continuing to go down a “misguided path of censorship” with the new rule.

Key Background

DEI, which typically refers to programs designed to promote fair pay, representation and hiring for various marginalized groups at universities and companies, has become an increasingly controversial matter recently. Figures like Musk have argued DEI is the “definition of racism,” arguing such programs alienate nonwhite workers and may create issues with companies’ products and services. Ackman, who made several criticisms of former Harvard President Claudine Gay’s handling of anti-semitism on campus, said in a lengthy post on X early this month that DEI was not about diversity and was instead a political advocacy movement that was racist in nature. Mark Cuban, a fellow billionaire and partial owner of the Dallas Mavericks, fired back at Musk and Ackman, arguing that well-executed DEI programs can help companies in their hiring search. Cuban added the reduction of companies adopting DEI programs was his gain.

Further Reading

Billionaires—Musk, Cuban, Ackman—Clash Over DEI. Here’s How It Became A Target. (Forbes)

Musk Joins University Donors And Lawmakers Targeting DEI Amid Antisemitism Concerns (Forbes)

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