DeSantis admin claims these are the DEI programs that universities misreported

In a statement provided to Campus Reform, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Press Secretary claimed Florida universities 'significantly misreported and under-reported' DEI initiatives and expenses.

The Executive Office of the Governor concluded that universities 'are more interested in protecting their status quo and furthering their agenda rather than delivering a quality education.'

In a statement provided to Campus Reform, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Press Secretary Bryan Griffin claimed Florida universities “significantly misreported and under-reported” Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Critical Race Theory expenses and initiatives. 

This follows after the DeSantis administration requested that public universities report their DEI and CRT expenses by Jan. 13. Reports revealed that $28 million was spent on these initiatives by the 12 state universities.

The Executive Office of the Governor concluded that universities “are more interested in protecting their status quo and furthering their agenda rather than delivering a quality education to Florida’s students.”  

[RELATED: VIDEO: Why I spoke at DeSantis’ higher ed reform press conference]

In Griffin’s statement, he underscored the inaccuracies within the University of Florida’s (UF) report. UF failed to disclose its Youth Gender Program in the audit, for example. This program is for “transgender and gender-nonconforming, or TGNC, youth and their families” and provides services like “cross-sex hormone therapy.” 

In response, DeSantis intends to verify thoroughly the accuracy of universities’ self-reports to ensure this is not a recurring theme.

Within the same email, the Governor’s team highlighted initiatives within the reports that were an “extraordinary misuse of taxpayer dollars.” The statement used Florida State University’s (FSU) “Social Justice Ally” workbooks and the University of South Florida’s (USF) “Antiracist Resources for White People“ as prime examples.

FSU’s “Social Justice Ally” page is no longer accessible to the public.

According to Griffin, the results indicate that universities are “promot[ing] a political agenda at the expense of academic focus.” He referred to this kind of spending as “wasteful” and highlighted examples from the reports on a Twitter thread.  

Florida A&M University uses $1.8 million taxpayer dollars on its “Center for Environmental Equity and Justice” annually.

USF similarly spent more than $1.1 million on its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office. It provides resources like gender-neutral bathroom maps in order to “provide basic human needs for everyone” at USF.

Griffin noted, in his statement provided to Campus Reform and on Twitter, that UF’s “Chief Diversity Officer” and her staff use $750,000 from state funds annually. In similar fashion, the salaries of the University of Central Florida’s “Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion” cost taxpayers $445,000 annually.

[RELATED: How Florida colleges help support the $9.5 billion DEI industry]

Ricardo Pareja, a third-year UF student, told Campus Reform that “there are much greater issues at hand when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars” such as “higher tuition costs and overall maintenance of public universities.” He believes that diversity and inclusion and related resources should be available, but not at the high expense of taxpayer dollars.

Pareja has witnessed UF “apply waivers that discount the upper level courses for majors like Engineering, Mathematics, Information Technology, and Computer Science.” He hopes that universities focus on spending that goes “towards degrees that will benefit everyone.”

Campus Reform contacted all parties mentioned. The article will be updated accordingly.

Follow Melissa Da Gama on Twitter