Florida bill targeting college diversity gets a makeover

In January, Governor Ron DeSantis called on Florida lawmakers to overhaul the state’s higher education system with a clear target in mind: diversity, equity and inclusion programmes. Shortly after, Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced bills that would have barred state universities and colleges from spending any money on programmes that promote “diversity, equity and inclusion or critical race theory”, write Ana Ceballos and Divya Kumar for the Tampa Bay Times.

But on Wednesday 12 April, a key Senate panel approved a complete rewrite of one of those bills – SB 266, the companion to HB 999 – and scrubbed any references to “diversity, equity and inclusion”. One of the concerns was that the restrictions on those initiatives could potentially endanger accreditation of certain higher education courses and programmes.

Now, the Senate bill limits spending on a broader set of themes, and universities would be required to ensure programmes do not delve into “theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political and economic inequities”. While DeSantis and his Republican allies have placed much of the focus on diversity and equity programmes, the proposed legislation is sweeping and also makes changes to state universities’ hiring practices and accreditation protocols, and could make it harder for faculty members to maintain tenure or reverse a termination.
Full report on the Tampa Bay Times site