New College of Florida moves to abolish Gender Studies program

Trustee Christopher Rufo, an activist and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, motioned for the president to begin abolishing the gender studies program.

The New College of Florida (NCF) Board of Trustees voted in August to abolish the college’s nearly 30-year-old gender studies program, becoming the first public university in the country to tackle this department. 

Trustee Christopher Rufo, an activist and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, motioned for the president to begin abolishing the gender studies program. 

“The best universities, when they have programs that do not fit in with a mission, that are not closely hewn to the scholarly intentions of the university, make the hard calls to discontinue those programs,” Rufo asserted. 

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The 7-3 vote in favor of Rufo’s motion called for contacting the Board of Governors and exploring collective bargaining with the Gender Studies faculty. The Bachelor of Arts in Gender Studies degree program would end beginning with 2024 enrollees, NCF said in a statement to Campus Reform

In an email to Campus Reform, NCF student Libby Harrity accused Rufo of having “praised” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s “fascistic education reforms” in Hungary.

“The decision to begin abolishing the gender studies program at NCF is a blatant assault on academic freedom, and mirrors exactly the fascistic education reforms seen in Orbán’s Hungary,” Harrity wrote. “Any American who values freedom should be outraged.” 

She added that NCF’s gender studies discipline helped her “reach a deeper understanding of scripture,” as a self-professed Christian. 

“As the child of a woman priest in the Episcopal Church, I have seen and experienced firsthand the ways in which gender dynamics affect the church environment. Gender studies has assisted me in understanding these dynamics, as well as in affirming my (and ALL peoples) place in the church community,” Harrity continued. 

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According to NCF’s student organizations page, Harrity helped found Forward Faith, a “progressive faith-based community.” 

Meanwhile, Matthew Spalding, a Hillsdale College professor and NCF trustee who voted for the action, said that NCF’s gender studies program clashed with the college’s academic mission.

“Not only does gender studies fall well outside this focus, but its ideologically-driven and tendentious character render it more a movement of cultural politics than an academic discipline,” he wrote in a statement to Campus Reform. “Any substantial topic taken up in gender studies may be found thoroughly treated in the ordinary academic disciplines such as history, psychology, or biology.”

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Campus Reform reached out to all parties mentioned for comment and will update this story accordingly. 

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