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DeSantis, Panelists Slam DEI “Scam” at Higher Ed Roundtable

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and Critical Race Theory (CRT) are in no way inclusive – instead, they force exclusion and division among students, Governor DeSantis said.

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA — On Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis held a roundtable discussion on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives in Florida’s higher education institutions. Panelists also discussed Critical Race Theory (CRT) and the impact it has on college students.

DeSantis said that these concepts are in no way inclusive – instead, they force exclusion and division among students. The governor also argued that the concepts do not contribute to the learning experience.

“In Florida, we are not going to back down to the woke mob, and we will expose the scams they are trying to push onto students across the country,” DeSantis said. “Florida students will receive an education, not a political indoctrination.”


The governor pledged that no funding from hardworking, tax-paying Floridians, including the parents of higher-education students, would be spent on these divisive initiatives.

“DEI divides students and at its very core is the antithesis to its so-called mission,” said Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. “These initiatives have completely transformed over the years, from what were once simple efforts to ensure equal access to all students, to now focusing on ideology over merit.”

To protect students and faculty from having to participate in DEI- and CRT-centered initiatives and training at higher education institutions, the governor has proposed new legislation. Under the proposal, state colleges and universities would be prohibited from funding DEI programs or activities. General education courses that distort historical events or use instruction from CRT would be banned.

Soliciting pledges or commitments to DEI, CRT or any political viewpoint as a condition of hiring, promotion, disciplinary action or evaluation would also be illegal under the new law. Additionally, University Boards of Trustees would be required to review a faculty member’s tenure status at the request of the Board chairs.


“It is time that we refocus our efforts towards the distinct mission of higher education – the pursuit of truth, the communication of that truth, which is teaching, and the selfless act of others, which is service,” said Ray Rodrigues, Chancellor of the State University System of Florida. “We value academic excellence, and therefore merit-based outcomes, instead of liberal ideologies, will be prioritized for all of our students across the System.”

At the event, Scott Yenor from the Claremont Institute’s Center for the American Way of Life unveiled his report Florida Universities: From Woke to Professionalism. The report documents DEI initiatives across Florida’s public universities and outlines strategies to end curriculum changes that incorporate DEI principles.

“Almost all of the institutions in Florida have strategic plans that include some sort of diversity, equity, inclusion ambition in it,” said Yenor. “DEI is pervasive in universities because of the complacency of the political establishment and the educational establishment.”

Roundtable participants included Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr.; State University System Chancellor Ray Rodrigues; Christopher Rufo, New College of Florida Board of Trustees; Scott Yenor of the Claremont Institute; Carrie Sheffield from the Independent Women’s Forum; Debra Jenks, Chairwoman of the New College of Florida Board of Trustees; Roger Tovar, Vice Chair of the Florida International University Board of Trustees; and several students who have been impacted by DEI initiatives.

Watch the full roundtable discussion here.