On January 18, the presidents of the Florida College System (FCS) issued a joint statement expressing opposition to further funding of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs, as well as critical race theory instruction in Florida’s public colleges.
“Historically, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives served to increase diversity of thought as well as the enrollment and the success of underrepresented populations and promote the open access mission of our state college system,” the statement began. “The presidents of the Florida College System (FCS) also understand that some initiatives and instruction in higher education under the same title have come to mean and accomplish the very opposite and seek to push ideologies such as critical race theory and its related tenets.”
After acknowledging the influence of these ideas in Florida’s public colleges, the presidents added that “our institutions will not fund or support any institutional practice, policy, or academic requirement that compels belief in critical race theory or related concepts such as intersectionality, or the idea that systems of oppression should be the primary lens through which teaching and learning are analyzed.”
Here’s what readers should know as the statement circulates online.
What is the Florida College System?
The Florida College System (FCS) consists of 28 community colleges within the state, the full list of which can be found here. Notable members include Miami Dade College (MDC), Hillsborough Community College (HCC), and Tallahassee Community College (TCC). Miami Dade College has the largest number of students of any college or university in the United States.
According to its annual report, more than 800,000 students are enrolled in FCS schools. About 90 percent of these are undergraduates, with the remaining 10 percent being postgraduate students. Notably, public universities like Florida State, the University of Florida, and Florida A&M (FAMU) are not FCS members, as they are not community colleges.
What led up to this decision?
As reported by the Collegian, Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration sent a letter to Florida’s public colleges and universities in early January requesting information about their funding of “woke” programs, such as those discussed in the FCS letter.
Colleges and universities were expected to provide this data to the state by January 13. Less than a week after that deadline, it appears the FCS has caught on to the governor’s skepticism of DEI and critical race theory instruction in the state’s public institutions of higher learning.
The governor’s efforts to reshape higher education in the state recently culminated in what Democrats and media figures labeled a “takeover” of the famously liberal New College of Florida’s (NCF) board of trustees. The Collegian documented the appointment of six new members of the thirteen-member board by Governor DeSantis last week. This move was applauded by prominent conservatives.
Christopher Rufo, one of the newly appointed members of the board, hailed the letter from FCS presidents as a victory on social media, writing, “The momentum is starting to shift. Keep pressing.”
What’s next for Florida State?
Because Florida State is outside of the FCS, this letter does not change the status of our school’s funding of DEI and critical race theory instruction. However, it does demonstrate a remarkable shift in the attitude towards these programs among the state’s top academic administrators.
In a reply to his original post about the FCS statement, Rufo said he and his colleagues at the Manhattan Institute have devised “a roadmap for abolishing DEI departments, ending mandatory diversity training, prohibiting political coercion, and restoring colorblind equality” at universities. While it is too early to know what will happen next, there is no doubt that Florida’s public institutions of higher education are growing increasingly resistant to “woke” ideology.