A prominent ally of Governor Ron DeSantis, who harshly criticized Florida State University for its “woke” programs, is now attacking the University of Florida (UF) for funding and supporting similar initiatives on an even larger scale.
Chris Rufo, a conservative activist appointed by DeSantis to New College of Florida’s board of trustees, published a report titled “DEI Captures the University of Florida” in early April.
“The University of Florida has created a radical diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) bureaucracy that promotes racial and political preferences in faculty hiring, encourages white employees to engage with a twelve-step program called Racists Anonymous, and maintains racially segregated scholarship programs that violate federal civil rights law,” Rufo’s report alleges.
Rufo points to the results of a survey conducted by one of the university’s “diversity leadership strategists,” Damon Williams, which found diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs now pervade UF’s academic departments.
“Williams’s preliminary survey suggests that the process of ideological capture has spread throughout the university’s departments and divisions: 73 percent ‘have a DEI committee’ and ‘DEI officer’; 70 percent ‘espoused commitment to DEI’; 53 percent ‘have a DEI strategic plan’; and 30 percent have ‘DEI in annual reports’ and use ‘DEI in performance review,'” Rufo’s piece claims.
In addition to observing that UF now funds 31 DEI initiatives to the tune of $5 million a year, Rufo notes that these programs’ expansion happened rapidly following George Floyd’s death in 2020.
“In July 2020, chief diversity officer Antonio Farias organized a university-wide plan for ‘antiracism measures,’ which included mandatory diversity training for all students, faculty, and staff; an entire academic year focused on ‘the Black experience, racism and inequity’; a presidential task force to explore the university’s racist past; recommendations for renaming buildings, removing monuments, and banning ‘historic racist imagery’; and a host of programs, speakers, workshops, and town halls dedicated to racialist ideology,” Rufo writes.
Rufo also shared that in response to a complaint from Professor Mark J. Perry of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights said they would be investigating UF for possible Civil Rights Act violations.
Perry filed a similar complaint in February against Florida State, after it was reported that one of the university’s scholarships potentially violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by excluding white students from consideration for the award.
Rufo’s exposé of UF quickly went viral on Twitter, receiving more than 1.4 million views as of April 13.
Governor DeSantis has not yet commented on Rufo’s latest piece. But in recent months, he has made clear that he will be taking action to rid state colleges and universities of DEI initiatives.
“We are also going to eliminate all DEI and CRT bureaucracies in the state of Florida. No funding. And that will wither on the vine,” DeSantis said at a press conference in late January.
Meanwhile, the governor’s opponents at UF have expressed opposition to his education policies, as well as the selection of former Republican U.S. Senator Ben Sasse to serve as president of the university.
“We’re really just out here to make sure that Ron DeSantis knows that we are upset, and want our freedoms to be academically involved and engaged in the ways that we wish,” Sabrina Briceno, a member of the UF College Democrats, said at a recent protest of the governor’s policies in Gainesville.