Ron DeSantis is attacking diversity, equity, and inclusion – that means he’s attacking you

Ron DeSantis continues his attempts to establish political control in Florida universities.


The Editorial Board

When Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his intent to defund all programs revolving around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) offices on public universities in Florida, we quickly realized this was more than an attack on these programs. 

This came after his request for universities to release all information regarding the funding of their DEI programs. 

This is an offense against individuals that fall within marginalized communities all throughout the state. This includes people of different religion, race, sex, gender identity, disabled students, and more. In one way or another, this includes just about everyone.

FAU prides itself on being one of the state’s most diverse campuses. According to FAU’s Diversity Data Report from 2019-2021, 19% of students are Black and 26% are Hispanic.

FAU is a Hispanic Serving Institution, where higher education institutions with a Hispanic population of at least 25% receive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Education specifically to serve Hispanic and Latino students. FAU is one of three public universities in the State University System of Florida that fall under this category.

All 28 Florida College System presidents – including Palm Beach State College President Ava Parker – issued a statement of support last month of the governor’s choices to attack DEI efforts. These presidents have decided to put the political agenda of the governor’s office above the education of their students. 

These right-wing politicians who claim to so openly support free speech are pulling the education that allows college students to form their own opinions. They have turned our universities and our education into their political playground, dismantling the core of education– learning

Learning about different cultures and perspectives allow students to become well-rounded members of society. Diversity is one of the cornerstones of being a credible institution. 

DeSantis has unleashed a wave of hate toward Florida universities, as they’re required by law to comply with his demands; however, they’re doing the bare minimum to protect and defend their faculty and students. 

FAU provided the information of all faculty and staff involved with DEI efforts. Most of these individuals are members of the marginalized communities DeSantis is attacking. 

We’ve already seen major effects of the Don’t Say Gay bill, which went into effect last year. Other states have continued to follow his example and attack the LGBTQ+ community. Furthermore, Florida teachers in K-12 schools have been forced to remove books from their classroom and follow a pre-approved list of books. 

He’s requested information from state universities pertaining to gender affirming student care, which we can only speculate is to work to decrease or stop access to this care for students. 

At the time of publication, the editorial board has not received copies of information that FAU has provided to the governor’s office. 

The full ramifications of these requests are yet to be seen. However, we see the former Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has been transformed into the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX. 

A small change that seems to have little effect. But, to us, this shows the university’s lack of dedication to protect the FAU community. 

Last month, the FAU Faculty Senate released a statement explaining their concerns with  the requests.  

Since this statement was released, the governor’s office has requested personal exchanges of professors speaking about DEI initiatives. The Faculty Union (UFF-FAU) told professors to wait for their instruction on these exchanges and ask the governor’s office for an extension to submit the messages. 

“We overall see this as a phishing expedition so that those against DEI in the state legislature and the governor can selectively find ‘evidence’ that they can construe as somehow divisive to our academic communities rather than what such initiatives actually do: trying to make it more inclusive to a wider range of perspectives and students who have not traditionally had access to public higher education,” wrote Chris Robé, UFF-FAU chair of communications. 

Multiple faculty members have declined speaking to the UP about their concerns surrounding these requests, all attributing this to the fear of reprisal from the governor’s office. 

We urge you to pay attention to how university officials are responding to these requests. Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, Barbara Feingold, donated over $120,000 to DeSantis and $25,000 to the Republican Party of Florida, according to Transparency USA. DeSantis appointed five of the thirteen members of the Board, while former Republican governor, Rick Scott, appointed four others.

These are the people making major decisions for the university. Where does the rich and diverse culture at FAU fall on their political agenda? 

The UP will continue reporting on these issues. However, it is your responsibility to pay attention and form your own opinion.

We urge you to exercise your responsibility to vote and make your voice and opinion heard in the next election cycle, regardless of your political ideology. 

The Editorial Board is composed of Editor-in-Chief Savannah Peifer, Managing Editor Ma. Emilia Santander, News Editor Jessica Abramsky, Features Editor Melanie Gomez, Copy Desk Chief Jasmine Die, Social Media Manager Luisa Ortiz and operates independently from the UP newsroom.