TALLAHASSEE — A coalition of college students and faculty members in Florida plan to protest the governor’s recent higher education reforms by “walking out” of their jobs, classes and meetings. Groups on university campuses across the state will conduct public demonstrations on Thursday to express their disapproval of Governor DeSantis' new initiatives.
Last month, Governor DeSantis announced a new bill that would prohibit colleges from funding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs with discriminatory practices.
“I can tell you those [DEI] bureaucracies are not representative of what the people of this state and the taxpayers of this state want,” DeSantis said on January 31.
Event organizer Ben Braver with the College Democrats at the University of South Florida said the goal is to celebrate “diversity in thought and freedom in education.” The coordinated demonstrations are scheduled for Thursday from noon to 1 pm on multiple college campuses in the state.
“These are values we care about and believe everybody cares about,” he told The Florida Standard. Braver said he expects at least 2,000 students from a dozen campuses to participate, including: FSU, UF, FAMU, UCF, USF, UWF, UNF, FIU and NCF.
“These DEI initiatives he is outlawing teach us how to think critically and compassionately,” the event’s RSVP page notes. “They teach us how to stand up against hate and bigotry, and to make everyone in our community feel like they belong,”
The “Stand for Freedom” organizers also accuse DeSantis of “hijacking school systems” and “dehumanizing the LGBTQ community.”
The RSVP page includes a pledge that was signed by four Democrat politicians in the state: Congressman Maxwell Frost and state representatives Michele Rayner-Goolsby, Anna Eskamani and Angie Nixon. Left-wing non-profits also signed the pledge, including Equality Florida, Dream Defenders, Social Equity and Education Alliance and United Faculty of Florida.