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UNIVERSITY PRESS

Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Board of Governors passes anti-DEI regulations against community wishes

The BOG passed two regulations affecting diverse communities on college campuses, despite a number of community members urging the board to reject.
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Courtesy of SUS Media Kit
Official State University System (SUS) of Florida Board of Governors logo.

On Thursday, the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) passed two regulations that could impact the inclusivity and diversity of students’ campus experiences.

The BOG made these decisions after much debate on the floor and the strong opposition of various community members, including students and faculty across different Florida schools and representatives of equality-led initiatives.

Regulation 9.016: In accordance with Senate Bill 266, this regulation, titled “Prohibited Expenditures,” prohibits universities from providing funding for diversity, equity and inclusion programs and promoting/engaging in social or political activism.

Since Gov. DeSantis signed SB 266 into law in May, students and faculty alike have continually expressed concern about its effect on student organizations and classes.

Regulation 14.010: In accordance with House Bill 1521, this regulation, titled “Designation of Restrooms and Changing Facilities,” requires that all universities must implement and provide signage documentation for male, female and unisex bathrooms and changing facilities.

Anyone who violates the regulation, notably university employees, may be punished and even terminated from their positions.

The public conveys its worry

Multiple members of the public who attended the meeting expressed various concerns with these regulations. All speakers were limited to one minute rather than three to keep time.

Elizabeth Bercaw, an FAU graduate student in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program, traveled three hours to the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando, where the BOG met. She began her comment with a fact she learned in one of her classes.

Elizabeth Bercaw, graduate FAU student, speaking to the Board of Governors on Nov. 9, 2023. Screenshot from BOG meeting livestream.

“One in three women are the victim of sexual assault, and for trans people, they’re four times more likely to be victims of violence,” she said.

Bercaw scanned her eyes around the room before continuing.

“The point is that under rule 9.016, we might not be able to learn about this and we might not be able to read the UN Human Rights Report on ending gender violence, simply because official documents like this mentioned gender, and they mentioned identity,” she said.

Quinn Diaz, public policy associate for Equality Florida, implored the board to reject both regulations, citing the censorship of student voices.

Quinn Diaz, public policy associate for Equality Florida, speaking to the Board of Governors on Nov. 9, 2023. Screenshot from BOG meeting livestream.

“Together these regulations work only to censor and to exclude this board is signaling its fear of student voices uniting for the greater good of our community as well betraying its duty to teach and to inform and its mission to achieve excellence,” they said.

Emma Aagaard, a UCF student activist, shared the same sentiments as Diaz as she stood before the board to represent a crowd of students outside protesting against the approval of Regulation 9.016.

Emma Aagaard, UCF student activist, speaking to the Board of Governors on Nov. 9, 2023. Screenshot from BOG meeting livestream.

“I implore each of you to consider the broader implications of this regulation,” Aagaard said. “It is not about budgets or money, it is about unjust regulations that encroach on our fundamental rights and values as students. It risks silencing our voices and inhibiting our growth as responsible, informed, and socially conscious members of society.”

Kathleen Fitzgerald, a retired school teacher, encouraged the board to reassess the wording of Regulation 9.016 to specify the kinds of social activism or campus activities that would violate it.

“If this rule passes, how will it be decided what is social activism, or what is considered DEI? Women in engineering? Environmental groups promoting political activism?” she asked. “This rule is overly broad and infringes on our students’ freedom.”

Kathleen Fitzgerald, retired school teacher, speaking to the Board of Governors on Nov. 9, 2023. Screenshot from BOG meeting livestream.

Despite these numerous calls to reject the regulations, the board passed them both.

Elisabeth Gaffney is the Managing Editor for the University Press. For more information on this article or others, you can reach Elisabeth at [email protected] or DM her on Instagram @elisabethgaff.

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About the Contributor
Elisabeth Gaffney, Managing Editor
Elisabeth is a junior majoring in multimedia journalism and double minoring in linguistics and sociology. She is a creative, kitten and coffee-loving workaholic with a love for the performing arts and storytelling. She hopes to one day work as a reporter at an established newspaper.

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    Rev . Dr. Joseph Shore-GossNov 14, 2023 at 1:22 pm

    I have been wondering if any of these freedom restrictions and education changes will endager the creditation of some of our colleges. People will be fleeing this state in the search of a good whole and unrestricted education!

    Reply
  • C

    Carol corbittNov 13, 2023 at 6:56 pm

    Disgusting

    Reply