- 28 Florida College System Presidents issued a joint statement in support of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recent diversity, equity, and inclusion policies
- The group claim that Florida’s higher education institutions have moved away from the original intent of diversity initiatives
- The presidents also committed to fully evaluating and removing any institutional instruction, training, and policies related to DEI curriculum and programming, as well as elements of critical race theory in coursework material
The presidents of 28 Florida College System (FCS) members issued a joint statement during Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting in support of measures Gov. Ron DeSantis has taken to audit diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) expenditure in Florida’s higher education institutions.
Led by Dr. John Avendano, president of Florida State College of Jacksonville, the statement details a belief that higher education institutions have ideologically strayed from traditional DEI programs. Avenado claims the original initiatives serve to “increase diversity of thought” and “elevate the enrollment and success of underrepresented populations.”
The statement also frames ongoing DEI services as a means for universities to “seek to push ideologies such as critical race theory and its related tenets.”
“The FCS presidents remain committed to developing campus environments that uphold objectivity in teaching and learning and in professional development and that welcome all voices—environments in which students, faculty, and staff can pursue their academic interests without fear of reprisal or being ‘canceled,’ said Avendano.
Notably, the presidents vowed to fully evaluate and remove any institutional instruction, training, and policies related to DEI curriculum and programming by the beginning of February.
Within the statement, the presidents also reaffirmed a commitment to nondiscrimination in hiring, onboarding, and professional development.
The FCS system comprises a consortium of 28 public community colleges and state colleges including Miami-Dade College, Tallahassee Community College, and Valencia College, which report some of the state’s highest enrollment numbers.
The statement comes after the Office of the Governor in late December made public a memo that requires all State University System members to report expenditures and resources utilized for campus activities related to diversity, equity and inclusion, and critical race theory.
The notice outlined a documentation process for universities to provide a comprehensive list of all staff, programs, and campus activities that might fall under the categorization of diversity or inclusivity.
As part of the process, each institution must provide a description of the activity or program, faculty positions involved with such events, the total spending towards the listed occasion, and of the total amount, a specification of how much was extracted from state-provided funding.
The motion was further supported by House Speaker Paul Renner last week after he requested records and information on financial outlays connected to the initiatives.
The motion, according to Renner’s office, “seeks answers about the use of political considerations in the development of curriculum, hiring, and promotion of faculty and other inappropriate activities.”
“Colleges and universities have an obligation to foster diversity of thought on their campuses and be good stewards of state dollars,” said Renner.
Based on data published by News Service of Florida on Wednesday afternoon, early numbers from the initial audits reflect that with approximately $3.4 million coming from the state, the University of Florida reported spending $5.3 million on diversity-related initiatives and costs.
43 staff roles associated with the initiatives were also detailed by the institution.
At the University of Central Florida, roughly $4.5 million was spent on programs and expenses, reporting $2.3 million of the total as subsidized by state funding.
News Report of Florida also wrote that the University of South Florida documented spending around $1.2 million on its Diversity and Inclusion Office, with $1.13 million of the expenditure coming from state sources.
Florida Atlantic University spent in the neighborhood of $904,000 on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, including any additional expenses, with close to $643,000 coming from the state.