Ron DeSantis celebrates as University of Florida eliminates all diversity roles

Florida governor Ron DeSantis in front of a US flag

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has said the sunshine state is where diversity initiatives “go to die” after the University of Florida eliminated its entire diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) department. 

The move is the latest in the failed presidential candidate’s long-running campaign against anything ‘woke’ – which has previously seen him pull all funding for diversity programs in public colleges.

In a memo published on Friday (1 March) the university announced that in order to comply with the Florida Board of Governor’s regulation 9.016 on prohibited expenditures, a number of full-time positions would be eliminated and DEI-focused contracts with outside vendors would be halted. 

The memo also stated that $5 million (£3,943,450) that was previously budgeted for diversity and inclusion programmes will now be invested in ​​a faculty recruitment fund. 

Staff whose jobs have been eliminated will receive the university’s “standard twelve weeks of pay” and are encouraged to apply for different positions within the institution, with the memo stating that the university’s HR department will “fast-track the interview process and provide an answer on all applications within the twelve-week window”. 

“Finally, the University of Florida is – and will always be – unwavering in our commitment to universal human dignity,” the announcement reads.

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Gainesville, University of Florida, campus entrance with students. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

“As we educate students by thoughtfully engaging a wide range of ideas and views, we will continue to foster a community of trust and respect for every member of the Gator Nation. 

“The University of Florida is an elite institution because of our incredible faculty who are committed to teaching, discovering, and serving.” 

Reacting to the news on his official X/Twitter account, GOP governor DeSantis wrote: “Florida is where DEI goes to die…”

He also wrote: “DEI is toxic and has no place in our public universities.  

“I’m glad that Florida was the first state to eliminate DEI and I hope more states follow suit.”

During his time as governor of Florida, right-wing DeSantis has sought to overhaul the education system in the state, including the removal of LGBTQ+ and racial content from the curriculum.

In 2022, he signed the Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (WOKE) Act – also known as the Stop WOKE Act – which prohibits diversity training that could suggest people have unconscious privilege.  

“A person should not be instructed that he or she must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress for actions, in which he or she played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex,” it states.

Also in 2022, DeSantis introduced his deeply controversial Don’t Say Gay bill, which bans classroom discussions of gender and sexuality topics. Initially the legislation applied up to the third grade but it has since been expanded multiple times to cover all grades

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