Letter to the Editor: Response to “Ron DeSantis is attacking diversity, equity, and inclusion – that means he’s attacking you”


Christian Valverde

Governor DeSantis has been on the receiving end of heavy controversy ever since the commencement of his first term, paradoxically placing himself as one of the most popular and polarizing governors in America. The reality that DeSantis has become a household name and many even look to him for a potential 2024 presidential run isn’t just happenstance, most voters in Florida and many across the country see him for the effective governor he is.

The media and other institutions have taken entirely sensible actions undertaken by DeSantis and spun them to establish a narrative that portrays the governor as some hate motivated bigot. Case in point, DeSantis’ blocking of an Advanced Placement African American studies course has been portrayed as racist, but most reporting has conveniently left out the fact that the curriculum contained topics such as “prison abolishment,” “queer studies,” and “reparations” – topics that have since been removed from the curriculum thanks to the state of Florida for standing up.

With this knowledge, it’s therefore important to investigate the finer details behind the diversity, equity, and inclusion programs and the exact reasons DeSantis found it important to proceed towards their removal.

A huge factor – possibly the main motivator behind these programs’ removal – is one that the original UPress editorial failed to mention outright: costs. Governor DeSantis ordered a 32 page detailed report on what universities are spending on programs or classes related to DEI or CRT (critical race theory), and the details are shocking.

In short, FAU spends almost $1 million on these programs. Looking through the data, we find specific numbers. FAU spends $10,512.53 dollars alone on a course titled “Gender and Climate Change,” a course I myself have unfortunately seen while browsing through the catalogue for previous semesters. In total, across all 12 public universities, $28 million goes towards these programs, $15 million of which are state funds.

These state funds must come from somewhere, and tragically the burden lies on the Floridian taxpayers. As for the last $13 million, there’s no doubt our tuition is at least partly filling that gap.

These costs would be acceptable if the programs themselves were worth it. However, I personally detest their existence and view such initiatives as disgraceful to our American values, and put such efforts on par with past racial sins such as Jim Crow.

It is regrettable that our public universities and schools continue to separate, rather than unify, different racial groups in America. It started with affirmative action where groups with historically higher test scores and grades were purposefully excluded in order for those with historically lower grades to be included and accepted into a university. I personally regard affirmative action and any related programs as unconstitutional in relation to the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. This clause requires states to treat all citizens equally regardless of differences, something many of these state-funded universities evidently fail to do. The state has no compelling interest in maintaining such programs, no matter what legal realist or judicial pragmatist arguments the courts use to argue otherwise.

A group of FAU faculty put out a statement defending DEI initiatives at FAU, and in it they list accomplishments that are dubious at best. One accomplishment is that “FAU more than doubled its four-year graduation rate from 19.3% in 2014 to 49.8% in 2021”, with no information proving this to be due to DEI efforts. There are many different factors which have made this true, and it seems completely disingenuous to personally make claim to such a statistic with data reaching back to 2014, well before the implementation of such DEI measures. Furthermore, no statistic exists to denote diversity or inclusion has even increased at FAU since the creation of DEI programs, as the university hasn’t self-reported ethnicity statistics since 2020. In this report the racial demographics of the student body are shown to have scarcely changed over a 5-year period.

If faculty and groups on campus were sincerely interested in proving such initiatives were effective, they would request another report to show how such statistics have evolved since the creation of DEI programs, however I have a gut feeling they won’t because the data exposed would not support their statements, and would only exhibit that FAU has wasted up to a million dollars in state funding on useless measures.

FAU’s faculty statement had the audacity to express that DEI is “critical to our student’ success.” However, it would appear as if no due diligence was done, and this statement is nothing more than erroneous and misleading for the purposes of pushing an agenda.

I abhor identity politics and try to steer clear from anecdotal information in favor of fact-based analysis. However, I must point out that as a disabled Hispanic, two groups listed as being under attack in the original editorial, I fail to see how such initiatives have ever benefitted me. In fact, I find it appalling and offensive that I be treated different from other students because of factors out of my control, I personally feel as if it diminishes my accomplishments and that the assistance is not necessary.

Those attacking DeSantis for rightfully purging such programs seem to not be educated on half of the facts listed here, and I hope this goes to demonstrate how wasteful bureaucratic programs such as DEI initiatives use progressive ideology and accusations of racism as a shield against criticism. Governor DeSantis has displayed great leadership abilities and courage by going after such programs, even with the foresight of how the media will attack him and what he will be labeled as.