DeSantis announces sweeping changes to dismantle DEI, CRT in higher education

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a legislative agenda that would dismantle DEI and CRT in higher education through reforms to curricula, funding, and faculty hiring.

The legislative agenda would subject general education courses to review and allocate $100 million of the new budget to ‘the recruitment and retention of highly qualified faculty at state universities.’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a legislative agenda that, if implemented, will dismantle diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and critical race theory (CRT) in Florida higher education. 

During a press conference and in an accompanying press release, DeSantis said that he is “aligning core curriculum to the values of liberty and the Western tradition, eliminating politicized bureaucracies like DEI, increasing the amount of research dollars for programs that will feed key industries with talented Florida students, and empowering presidents and boards of trustees to recruit and hire new faculty.”

The 2023 legislative agenda proposes banning colleges and universities from funding DEI and CRT initiatives “regardless of [the] source,” eliminating “political loyalty oaths and DEI statements” from faculty job applications, and handing over hiring and firing decisions to university presidents and boards of trustees “without interference from unions and faculty committees.” 

[RELATED: FL public universities spend DEI millions on bureacrats, woke classes, ‘racial and gender report cards’: report]

Other items on the agenda suggest a complete overhaul of DEI and CRT in hiring and curriculum. The legislative agenda would subject general education courses to review by the State University System Board of Governors (BOG) and State Board of Education (SBOE) and allocate $100 million of the new budget to “the recruitment and retention of highly qualified faculty at state universities.”  

University presidents and boards of trustees, the press release says, may even review tenured professors. 

DeSantis’ proposals continue the work of Senate Bill 7044 from the 2022 legislative session. SB 7044 included a reform to the accreditation process, allowing colleges and universities to secure accreditation through a regional provider approved by the U.S. Department of Education (DOEd) and use a different accreditor if denied. 

“Prior to this legislation, accrediting agencies had a monopoly on Florida colleges and universities and were able to hold a hand over the operations of educational institutions and remove objectivity from the process,” the governor’s statement on the bill read. 

Colleges and universities, as Campus Reform reported, cite compliance with accreditation standards for DEI spending in schools of medicine, engineering, and other disciplines. DEI requirements call for recruiting faculty from underrepresented groups, which hiring committees can do by skirting the closed, competitive open recruitment process. 

Campus Reform analyzed DEI spending in Florida’s public colleges after the State University System of Florida (SUSF) responded to a memo from DeSantis. $15 million of the $28 million that SUSF schools spent on DEI and CRT initiatives came from public funds. 

[RELATED: Oklahoma official demands to know ‘every dollar’ public universities spend on DEI]

The DeSantis memo also requested DEI and CRT spending from the Florida College System, which oversees 28 colleges in the state. A recent statement from the system’s presidents expresses their agreement with DeSantis’ vision for higher education. These colleges will “end all discriminatory DEI and CRT initiatives by tomorrow, February 1, 2023,” according to the governor’s press release. 

The press release says that the legislative agenda will “further elevate civil discourse and intellectual freedom in higher education, further pushing back against the tactics of liberal elites who suppress free thought in the name of identity politics and indoctrination.” 

Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly.