Last week, Florida State University administrators and professors pushed back against claims about the ubiquitous influence of far-left politics at the institution.
According to Christopher Rufo, a conservative activist recently appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis to New College of Florida’s board of trustees, Florida State has “adopted a series of ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’ programs that divides Americans along a ‘matrix of oppression,’ castigates Christians for their ‘Christian privilege,’ and offers a racially segregated scholarship that deliberately bars white students from applying.”
These allegations quickly circulated on social media. Rufo’s Twitter thread about the story received over one million views and over six thousand likes. In a series of posts, Rufo alleges that Florida State radically understated the school’s influence of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs in its report to the governor on the subject earlier this year.
Rufo also pointed out that the university offers scholarships that exclude white students from consideration, such as the Delores Auzenne Assistantship.
Responding to the backlash, Florida State denied some of the claims. In a statement posted to its official Twitter account, the university said that of the 206 documents Rufo used in his report, 146 came from a “voluntary training” discontinued in 2019. No additional comments were provided about the remaining 60 files.
This dispute comes as the debate over the influence of “woke” ideology in universities continues to take center stage in state politics. As the Collegian reported, Governor DeSantis recently announced a series of reforms to combat indoctrination in Florida’s institutions of higher learning.
However, faculty at Florida State from across the political spectrum expressed their disagreement with Rufo. Professor Sam Staley, who formerly served as the Director of Urban and Land Use Policy at the Reason Foundation — a libertarian think tank — criticized Rufo in a social media post last week.
“Having Rufo come in, without bothering to talk to anyone on the ground, and write something this shallow and uninformed for the Manhattan Institute is dispiriting,” Staley said.
Professor Jack Fiorito, who teaches at the College of Business, echoed a similar sentiment. Fiorito told the Tallahassee Democrat that Rufo’s assertions were “exaggerated rubbish,” adding, “I suspect that the vast majority of our thousands of business students — the students I teach — would find claims of indoctrination laughable.”
Despite Florida State’s unified response to these attacks, allegations of the university’s ideological capture continue to circulate. On February 6, Rufo published an op-ed in Fox News doubling down.
“Knowledge, it seems, has been displaced as the core mission of this university,” Rufo wrote.
Only time will tell if Rufo’s investigation will result in official action against Florida State. But if Governor DeSantis’ past decisions are any indication of where the administration will focus its attention in the future, such an outcome would not be surprising.