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Diversity Advocates Condemn Elimination of DEI Staff and Programs at University of Florida

The National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) condemned the University of Florida's elimination of its diversity, equity, and inclusion staff.  The elimination of jobs and programs "is evidence of the real effect legislative attacks are having on years of efforts to advance diversity and inclusion in higher education," said Paulette Granberry Russell, President & CEO of NADOHE. "They come at the expense of students, who will suffer without programs and people to support their educational journey." Ufla

A memo to employees pointed to a new regulation for the Board of Governors that wiped away a $5 million budget that had been committed to diversity, equity and inclusion programs. 

"The University of Florida is--and will always be--unwavering in our commitment to university human dignity," the memo read. " As we educate students by thoughtfully engaging a wide range of ideas and views, we will continue to foster a community of trust and respect for every member of the Gator Nation. The University of Florida is an elite institution because of our incredible faculty who are committed to teaching, discovering, and serving," the memo added. 

A total of 13 full-time employees and 15 administrative appointees at the university lost their jobs. They will receive 12 weeks of severance pay. 

Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis, who has led the attack on DEI, applauded the development. 

"DEI is toxic and has no place in our public universities," he wrote on the X social media site, formerly known as Twitter. "I'm glad that Florida was the first state to eliminate DEI and I hope more states follow suit." 

Granberry Russell said that NADOHE will continue to "speak out forcefully against these attacks and in defense of its members, as it has since the recent wave of activism first infested our campuses." The association is scheduled to meet in Seattle for its annual meeting later this month and the Florida decision will inevitably be at the top of the agenda. She said that she anticipates that other states will follow Florida's lead. 

"We will continue to speak and act in opposition to what is transpiring, and we need others who believe in the value of this work to join us and advocate for these initiatives," she said. "Our students —students of color, queer students, students with disabilities, women, first-generation students, veterans, students from lower-income backgrounds, and other students from all backgrounds—deserve nothing less." 

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