DEI-vestment: University of Florida sheds ‘inclusion’ for innovation

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Blaze Media on March 7, 2024 and is crossposted here with permission.

The Sunshine State is now the test case of whether anti-DEI laws can have a meaningful effect in turning back these neo-racist programs.

The University of Florida boldly advanced to the front of the academic line last week by closing its DEI office. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is the ideology that that depicts an America locked into a permanent struggle of the oppressed against their oppressors, with African-Americans in the starring role as the forever oppressed and the LGBTQ+ contingent in the lead supporting role.

Perhaps what the University of Florida just did could be called DEI-vestment. It definitely has a financial component. The university says it will now reallocate about $5 million per year that it had previously earmarked for racial shakedowns, i.e. DEI personnel and programs.

Even if the administrative apparatus is gone at the University of Florida, a good many of its supporters and former employees remain.

While the University of Florida deserves high praise for its initiative, it didn’t come up with this reform all on its own. Florida’s State Board of Education voted in January to eliminate DEI programs in 28 state colleges. And in November, the board of governors of the state’s university system called for the same rescission at Florida’s 12 public universities. These bureaucratic bodies acted at the urging of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is an outspoken opponent of the DEI ideology.

Most of these educational institutions have been slow-walking their compliance or looking for ways to evade their legal responsibility to amend their policies. The University of Florida under its president, former U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, was simply the first to step up. The immediate result was the elimination of 13 positions, including that of chief diversity officer. That office alone had a budget of more than $400,000 in the 2022-23 academic year.

If I may offer some free advice to Sasse: Dig deeper. Eliminating those 13 positions is a fine start, as is the ending of 15 other DEI-based “administrative appointments.” The translation of that second category is faculty members who get paid extra for their DEI work, which, one suspects, consist mostly of fitting into a valued identity group that the DEI chiefs wanted to be more conspicuous on campus.

But DEI on most campuses is something like the green anacondas and other exotic snakes that have found a home in Florida’s inland waters and proliferated there, throttling the life out of native species. The DEI anaconda, like its reptile brethren, hides in the recesses and isn’t easily done away with. Even if the administrative apparatus is gone at the University of Florida, a good many of its supporters and former employees remain. Will they content themselves with playing by the rules of civil rights law and the university’s legitimate educational mission? Sasse should keep his eyes open.

This story matters because many states have passed laws or taken other steps to uproot DEI programs in their public colleges and universities. Bills have been introduced in 33 states and have become laws in 13 of them. The University of Florida is now the test case of whether such laws can have a meaningful effect in turning back these neo-racist and ideology-driven programs.

Proponents of such reform face not only the careerists who staff the programs but much of the higher education establishment. The mere existence of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education testifies to how well established DEI is, and naturally this association is summoning its allies to the cause.

Defenders of DEI argue that “free speech” is trampled if DEI is defunded. This is especially notable since one of the major activities of DEI offices is the suppression of everyone else’s free speech.

Photo by Jared Gould — Adobe — Text to Image


  • Peter Wood

    Peter Wood is president of the National Association of Scholars and author of “1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project.”

4 thoughts on “DEI-vestment: University of Florida sheds ‘inclusion’ for innovation

  1. Nothing will change without a wholesale purge of the administrative staff — the Executive Assistants, the Special Assistants, the Office Managers, and the Directors.

    In the 18 years that I was at UMass Amherst, there were no fewer than six Vice Chancellors for Student Affairs. One was good, two belonged in the psych ward, and the remaining four were mediocre leftists — I was on a first-name basis with all six because of both my graduate program and then the things I was doing on campus. And I was also on a first name basis with their office manager. That’s singular, same woman for all 18 years, and I watched her slowly corrupt these people into becoming UMass clones.

    I was also on a first name basis with all five Chancellors, on the search committee for one, and they shared the same executive secretary and support staff who made them into virtual clones of their predecessors.

    An incoming administrator will often replace the top tier of assistants so that he can have his own “team” — but that does no good because any large institution is really being run by the secretaries.

    So you gotta fire everyone — or at least relocate them to another state job somewhere else — give them a promotion (and a pay raise) to sweeten the deal, but do what the FBI did to their Boston Field Office after the Whitey Bulger scandal — replace EVERYONE with someone’s who is new.

    The grad students will be a problem but most will only be around for only a few years, particularly if you help them graduate. As to the faculty, most will behave themselves once they see the writing on the wall.

    But this is what one must do…

  2. Banning things is the wrong approach. Reformers should specify affirmatively what colleges must teach. This includes the content of the curriculum and civic values. Otherwise reformers will keep playing whack-a-mole.

  3. DEI is a self-perpetuating money hustle. Annual reports from DEI offices, especially at colleges and universities, generally extoll the “progress that has been made,” but caution: “Much more work needs to be done.” These missives generally refer to polling of stakeholders (needless to say from “diverse communities”), and recommend next steps, to wit: More DEI staff and more DEI consultants.

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