Florida’s Gov. DeSantis Declares Financial War On ‘Woke’ Universities In State

The Stop Woke Act is presently being contested in court, but DeSantis is optimistic it will be upheld. Florida’s Gov. DeSantis is declaring financial war on the ‘woke’ universities in state.

Florida’s Gov. DeSantis Declares Financial War On ‘Woke’ Universities In State

On January 31, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis laid down the gauntlet on higher education reform, pledging to abolish all funding for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI), and Critical Race Theory (CRT) across the state.

DeSantis believes that public institutions should not be involved in the practice of using government funds to grant degrees in “zombie” disciplines, but rather should promote academic brilliance and truth, and empower students to think for themselves.

“Our institutions will be graduating students with degrees that will actually be useful,” he said. “We will be eliminating all DEI and CRT bureaucracies in Florida. It will wither on the vine.”

DeSantis proposed a number of legislative initiatives to rid institutions of political ideology, including permitting university presidents and boards of trustees to conduct post-tenure reviews on professors as necessary.

He also wants to transfer recruiting authority from faculty to the university president.

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A statue of Karl Marx is seen in the building of the Corvinus University in Budapest on Sept. 4, 2014. The ‘Corvinus’ was renamed in 1953 as Karl Marx University and it was a base of the country’s Marxist intellectual elite in the socialist era. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images)

DeSantis has stated that he would like to bar university hiring committees from using DEI oaths to certify candidates’ adherence to ideology. Critical Race Theory is one of them—a Marxist theory that separates individuals into oppressors and victims depending on race or gender.

Candidates who reject social justice theory and embrace the concept in equality and a colorblind society are already penalized throughout the hiring process, which is designed to weed out individuals who disagree, he added.

According to DeSantis, DEI bureaucracy has evolved into a component of university administration, imposing a political agenda and ideas such as latent prejudice, which accepts the premise that America is systemically racist.

“These bureaucracies are hostile to academic freedom, and really they constitute a drain on resources,” he said.

DeSantis stated that he disagrees with the prevalent attitude in academia across the country that higher education should compel ideological conformity in order to elicit political activism.

He advocated that higher education curricula include a course on Western Civilization’s history and philosophy.

The governor stated that DEI bureaucrats had “metastasized,” and that they require political ideology training. He said that the state’s Stop Woke Act, passed this year, enables employees, particularly those working for private companies, the freedom to refuse CRT or DEI training.

He commended the presidents of the Florida College System (FCS), who officially endorsed his vision of higher education on January 18 as one that was devoid of brainwashing and welcoming of the truth and intellectual freedom. State colleges and community colleges make up FCS.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs the Stop Woke Bill in Hialeah Gardens, Fla., on April 22, 2022. (The Florida Channel/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

The Stop Woke Act is presently being contested in court, but DeSantis is optimistic it will be upheld.

The law addresses “wokeness” to historical injustices involving race or gender that may have generated a mistaken sense of guilt among individuals who were not guilty, such as the concept of systemic racism.

It forbids “indoctrination” methods in education or the workplace that, knowingly or unconsciously, designate people as fundamentally racist, sexist, or oppressive based on their skin color, gender, or national origin.

The statute empowers the Board of Governors of the public university system to compel tenured faculty to undertake a “comprehensive post-tenure” evaluation each five years.

DeSantis’ declaration is his latest attack on the “woke” ideology that he claims is rife on college campuses around the country.

The governor also required public universities to publish their CRT and DEI program expenses.

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A Florida university student, who asked to be identified only as Mia, sits with her study Bible at home on Christmas break on Dec. 22, 2022. Expressing Christian views on campus draws scorn from professors, who openly talk about their “hate for Christians,” she told The Epoch Times. (Courtesy of Mia)

A conservative University of Florida student recalled being harassed for her opinions at the DeSantis press conference, echoing what students have told The Epoch Times.

“My university has fallen corrupt to the woke ideal that is being taught by leftist professors in the classroom,” said Emily Sturge, a sophomore at UF.

According to her instructors, America is the most prejudiced country in the world, and women have no rights. Professors, she claims, lecture about the importance of the Covid vaccination rather than teaching content.

Sturge claimed she received a failing mark for a paper she wrote about how empowering it was for women to obtain concealed carry licenses. But she received an A for tactically writing on the advantages of Marxism.

Sturge claimed to have a “target on her back” for being a pro-American Christian, and that she had been called “every name in the book” by her classmates.

In January, DeSantis dealt another punch to the university system’s “woke” culture by selecting six conservatives to the board of trustees of the failed New College.

Christopher Rufo, a Manhattan Institute fellow who has uncovered CRT in schools around the country, was among them.

Rufo, who also appeared at the press conference, discussed how the Left was influencing public perception by utilizing terminology like DEI, which appears to be a positive notion but is actually a negative one.

“It is an Orwellian misuse of language that manipulates you into feeling that this is a good thing while under the surface. It’s something quite different,” he said.

Rufo compared DEI to CRT, which separates the world into oppressors and victimized. Professors teach students, faculty, and staff that certain individuals are oppressors while others are oppressed.

DeSantis declared that a committee on public health integrity would be created earlier in December. Now, Florida grand jury has been impaneled to investigate mRNA vaccine manufacturers.

He stated that the entire board of New College would convene following the news conference. When he and trustee Eddie Speir visited New College last week, they were met with opposition from students and professors.

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Christopher Rufo, filmmaker, policy researcher, and writer. (Courtesy of Christopher Rufo)

In a blog post on Jan. 29, Speir stated that he intended to remove all faculty and administrators and promptly rehire those who fit into “the new financial and business model.”

Rufo stated in a City Journal article published on January 12 that he planned to establish a classical curriculum at New College, which would entail scrapping DEI and replacing it with “equality, merit, and colorblindness” principles.

At the press conference, Ray Rodriguez, chancellor of the State University System of Florida, stated that Florida would oppose mandating DEI pledges.

He claimed that university systems in California and Illinois were the first to implement this rule, which is incorrect.

“It is a political litmus test of ideology so that they only bring in those who fit whatever the dominant ideology is on those campuses,” he said.

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