In late February, House Bill 999 was introduced in Florida’s House of Representatives. If passed, it would codify a variety of Governor Ron DeSantis’ proposed higher education reforms into law.
The legislation would abolish diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs in Florida, concentrate faculty hiring power in boards of trustees across the state, and allow university administrators to conduct post-tenure reviews of faculty at any time, Inside Higher Ed reported.
It would also eliminate the gender studies major and scale back the study of critical race theory at Florida’s colleges and universities.
Republicans throughout the state have backed the measures, including State Representative Alex Andrade, who authored HB 999 in February.
“Conservative voters have told us for years that college campuses have been far too focused on political indoctrination and not enough focus has been on preparing students for the real world,” Rep. Andrade said.
However, both parties in Florida State University’s Student Government Association (SGA), ForwardFSU and Surge, spoke out against the proposal.
Surge, which brands itself as a progressive alternative to the more moderate ForwardFSU, vocally condemned HB 999 and the governor’s desired education reforms in an Instagram post last weekend.
“The release of the official bill language of Governor DeSantis’ attack on higher education last night was unsurprisingly egregious, and we remain steadfast in our efforts to resist and overcome these harmful measures,” Surge wrote in a statement.
Surge also asserted that the bill was a “dangerous attack on our education and our future.”
On February 28, ForwardFSU also expressed opposition to HB 999 on Instagram, just one day before the SGA hosted its spring semester election.
“With the proposed removal of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs and classes, HB 999 introduces a dangerous precedent for Florida State and higher education statewide,” ForwardFSU argued.
But ForwardFSU and Surge’s condemnation of the bill has left some feeling unrepresented by the two parties competing for control of the university’s student government.
Ernie Sampera, who serves as the vice president of Florida State College Republicans, is supportive of HB 999. He was unhappy with ForwardFSU and Surge’s statements.
“Both parties that make up FSU’s student government claim to champion diversity. However, when it comes to diversity of thought, there is literally zero amongst the ranks of both Forward and Surge,” Sampera told the Collegian.
“There is virtually no ideological difference between the two,” he added. “Both are composed of members who support radical left-wing policies. The current uniparty-like status of SGA leaves half of FSU’s student body with no real representation.”
The results from SGA’s March 1 elections are expected soon.