SB 266 caused heated debate about the significance of college DEI programs in Florida
On Wednesday, the Florida House of Representatives granted final approval to a bill that would prohibit schools and institutions from using funds on diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) projects. This is in line with the goals of Gov. Ron DeSantis and his allies to combat the "woke" philosophy in the state.
However, those who oppose the Florida bill argue that it will discourage and deter talented professors and students, stressing the importance of college DEI programs.
What is the Florida bill about?
The bill (SB 266), which will soon be presented to DeSantis, has sparked heated discussion over free speech on Florida's college campuses. The law was adopted by the Republican-controlled House by a vote of 81-34, along party lines. It had already been approved by the Senate by a vote of 27-12.
SB 266 makes a number of adjustments to the higher education system. Faculty committees reviewing mandatory general education courses, for example, would have to be appointed by the public Board of Education and the Board of Governors of the public university system. Courses may be eliminated, rearranged, or added as a result of these reviews, depending on the criteria used to make such decisions.
What critics of the DEI programs bill say
DeSantis has often criticized "woke" thinking in areas like education and government spending, which has earned him backlash from students. For instance, this year, he appointed a new set of trustees to the board of the New College of Florida, and they wasted no time in scuttling any efforts aimed at fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion (abbreviated "DEI").
The measure would prohibit universities in Florida from using state funds for programs that promote DEI. Rep. Ashley Gantt (D-Miami) pushed back against the idea that efforts to promote DEI have been detrimental to the university system by noting the improvement in national rankings achieved by Florida's educational institutions in recent years. If these plans are thwarted, she and other Democrats say, it would have a negative impact on schools and children.
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