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Report: Florida's Attacks on DEI Risk Harming Higher Ed and Democracy

Florida’s attacks on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and so-called “woke” disciplines demonstrate a disregard for academic standards of governance and academic freedom, according to an American Association of University Professors (AAUP) report.New College Of FloridaNew College of Florida

These attacks are also part of efforts to minimize racial minorities and LGBTQ communities, the report said.

The report, "Political Interference and Academic Freedom in Florida’s Public Higher Education System", examines the ongoing efforts in the state of Florida and its Gov. Ron DeSantis' attacks on higher ed. Faculty, students, alumni, trustees, and university leaders and former presidents were interviewed for the report. 

According to the report, academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance in Florida’s public colleges and universities are facing an unparalleled political and ideological assault that risks harming higher ed systems across the state. It cites the ideological takeover of New College of Florida – where DeSantis appointed six new board members – as a prime example.

“During the dozens of interviews conducted by the special committee with faculty members across Florida, two sentiments came up frequently: the reality in Florida is ‘Orwellian,’ and Florida is the ‘canary in a coal mine,’” the report noted. “Indeed, the threat from authoritarian politicians who use phrases like ‘Stop WOKE,’ ‘DEI bureaucracy,’ and ‘indoctrination’ to limit academic freedom while imposing their worldview upon institutions of higher education cannot be overstated. Neither can the threat of Florida-style legislation spreading across the country.”

The report authors called on education advocates to fight back against such attacks. 

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