This article is published in cooperation with the Alachua Chronicle.
BY JENNIFER CABRERA
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA – A report on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Critical Race Theory (CRT) initiatives at the University of Florida provided to Alachua Chronicle and The Florida Standard by a UF insider details a labyrinthine structure of programs and positions – many of which were not reported in response to the governor’s request for information on DEI and CRT expenditures in state colleges and universities.
The insider, whose credentials have been verified by The Florida Standard and the Alachua Chronicle, told us that he produced the report “to document the depth and breadth” in which DEI initiatives have embedded themselves at UF – the state’s flagship university. He said that as a result of these initiatives, faculty and staff fear losing their jobs and students are afraid they will be penalized academically if they speak up against these ideas.
Although UF reported a total of $5,333,914 in spending on DEI initiatives, with $3,381,330 of that funded by the state, the insider’s report claims that the university’s response omits numerous individuals and initiatives that promote DEI and CRT programs that are being forced upon faculty, staff, and students campus-wide, in almost every department and college.
Although DEI initiatives are promoted as being about diversity and inclusion, these programs have been found to promote core concepts of CRT that promise to achieve “equity” by favoring certain identity groups (based on race, gender identity, and sexual preference) in the name of “diversity” over merit, while discriminating against other groups. DEI materials also urge members of certain identity groups to acknowledge their “privilege” and the historic role of their own identity group in oppressing other groups.
CHIEF DIVERSITY OFFICER
At the top of UF’s DEI food chain is the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), which works with 33 Campus Diversity Liaisons (CDLs). Most of the CDLs are members of the leadership team of each college or business unit on the campus. UF’s report to the governor included a little over $1 million in salaries for the CDO office, and only three departments listed salaries for the CDLs; however, the insider’s report shows that most of these CDLs do not carry official DEI titles in their job description despite their extensive work in pushing DEI and CRT initiatives.
By contrast, the insider’s report found that all 16 colleges at UF have DEI committees or programs, and ten of them have dedicated DEI personnel. The CDO also manages UF’s Anti-Racism Initiative and coordinates with UF’s Human Resources Department, which encourages all employees to complete its Inclusive Hiring certification program that promotes DEI as its foundational element. In addition, the CDO works with the Division of Student Life, which manages the Center for Inclusion & Multicultural Engagement, which reported $423,084 in funding ($358,084 funded by the state).
25 FACULTY OR STAFF WITH DEI TITLES
Based on the insider’s report, UF has 25 faculty or staff with official DEI titles, with salaries totaling more than $3.32 million. These individuals are responsible for implementing DEI initiatives within their respective colleges or departments and institutionalizing DEI programs into every facet of UF, from admissions to hiring practices to classroom instruction. A majority of the 25 DEI personnel were hired in the 2021-2022 academic year, with those who previously held other positions at UF receiving an average pay increase of 22%; others saw a jump in salary as high as 54%. These DEI faculty/staff work in partnership with the other CDLs to coerce other students, faculty, and staff into participating in DEI training programs, policies, and procedures or face a real risk of not advancing in their careers.
Two DEI staff members make $300,000 or more: CDO Marsha McGriff makes $300,000, and Madeline Joseph, the Associate Dean for Inclusion and Equity for the College of Medicine in Jacksonville, makes $387,806. One staff member makes over $200,000, and six make over $150,000.
“INCLUSIVE HIRING” PRACTICES
UF’s Human Resources Department has implemented a three-step process to incorporate DEI training into all hiring practices: Faculty and staff are encouraged to complete a series of “Inclusive Hiring” courses to become certified with an “Inclusive Hiring Badge,” and any UF entity that is hiring is instructed to use the “Inclusive Hiring Toolkit.”
EMBEDDED IN INSTRUCTION
UF’s Center for Instructional Technology and Training offers a “Teaching for Inclusivity and Accessibility Certificate” to train instructors on “how to reach a diverse set of students through the consideration of identity, equity, and access.”
NUMEROUS AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
UF offers numerous awards to recognize individuals’ commitment to DEI, including the Graduate Education Diversity Champion Award, Gator Nation LeaDErshIp Awards, and Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Awards.
COLLEGE OF EDUCATION
The College of Education lists diversity and equity as two of its top three core values. The college’s Letter from the Director opens by stating, “We begin this year recognizing challenges in increasingly politicized educational environments. Despite this, we stand by our core values of Diversity, Quality, Equity… Our School includes a broad range of programs… with areas that focus on… the societal and political influences on educational contexts.”
The College of Education also partners with Alachua County Public Schools and the National Science Foundation on a project called Culturally-Responsive Affective-Focused Teaching, which is only available to students who “identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).”
The College of Education has established a Collective for Black Student Advancement that has a list of action items including implementing a race-centered graduate degree specialization; increasing the number of race-centered courses across the college and requiring that all students complete at least one of these courses; hiring, promoting, and supporting black faculty; and ensuring that all black faculty are granted graduate faculty status.
The College of Education provides guidance on “Developing an Inclusive Syllabus” that includes this question: “Are the course assignments equitable and attainable by all students regardless of income, location, cultural background, etc., without putting any students in distress while attempting to complete an assignment?” Instructors are also encouraged to include “assignments and activities that are culturally relevant and inclusive.”
Courses in the College of Education include assignments on “Creating Classrooms that Address Race and Ethnicity,” “Conceptualizing Issues Related to Race in Schools,” and “Best Practices for Supporting LGBTQ Students.”
COLLEGE OF JOURNALISM AND COMMUNICATIONS
The College of Journalism and Communications (CJC) has an Office of Diversity and Inclusion with a mission statement that includes promoting “the principles and best practices of diversity, inclusion and equity in all activities and programs of the College.”
CJC’s Diversity Strategic Plan has a goal to “Enhance [CDC’s] recruitment, retention, and placement of diverse and multicultural faculty, staff, and students.”
A one-minute video features a spokeswoman and students asking “different” people to apply for nine open faculty positions. The people in the video say, “We need you–and your different–at our college…. We need people that look like us and sound like us. We need something different… We have nine new faculty positions open, and we want them to be different. So if you’re different or know someone different, let it be known. We want ‘real’ at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications”
Courses in the CJC include “Media, Cultures, and Identity,” in which the professor reportedly pushes students to adopt beliefs about America’s “systemic racism” and concepts like oppression related to issues such as gender identity, “queer-theory,” transgenderism, and the ideas of Karl Marx. The Course Description says the course “will study the constructions of race, gender, sexuality, class, religion, and ability in media as well as the conditions of production that enable them.”
Course materials provided by the insider include slides that say, “Race isn’t biological, but racism is still real” and “Colorblindness will not end racism.” Another slide says, “Gender is not tied to sex or sexuality, but is a social construction” and “Gender is a kind of doing, a social action performed, in part, without one’s knowing and without one’s willing.”
COLLEGE OF LAW
A message on the website of UF’s College of Law states that the college is “committed to fighting systemic racism.” A letter from Dean Laura Rosenbury says that “Anti-Blackness, white supremacy, and other forms of racism have deep roots in our society, including within the legal system and the legal profession.”
As a recent example of the importance the College of Law places on DEI, as opposed to challenging students to consider all sides of a legal argument, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel visited a class at the College via Zoom on March 15, 2022. Before class, the professor sent an email to the class, letting them know that Liberty Counsel has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center “because of its extreme anti-LGBTQ+ ideology,” although she did not expect that topic to be part of the discussion, which was expected to focus on religious liberty. The professor told her students, “If you prefer to refrain from attending, I accept and understand your decision. I will excuse your absence as long as you notify me of your decision before class.”
Classes in the College of Law include “Social Justice Lawyering,” which “examines the meaning of social justice, structural factors that contribute to inequities in the legal system,” a “Gender Justice Clinic,” and a “Race and Justice” course, along with a “Critical Race Theory” seminar. The first assignment in the CRT class is to read Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility.
COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
As the Alachua Chronicle previously covered in this article, a report from “Do No Harm” in November 2022 concluded that the UF College of Medicine is “indoctrinating its medical school graduates in divisive philosophies and other forms of social justice activism.”
The report notes that the Medical Admissions office at UFCOM makes its first impression on visitors to its website by displaying a photograph of medical students kneeling during a Black Lives Matter protest, holding a sign that reads #WhiteCoatsForBlackLives.
The statement on the website read, “BLACK LIVES MATTER! The UF College of Medicine Office of Admissions unequivocally condemns racism, injustice, and prejudice in all forms. We acknowledge the existence and persistence of systemic oppression and racism that endanger the lives of people of color. We strive for an admissions culture that is reflective, informed and inclusive, dedicated to building a diverse community of future physicians who share a commitment to excellence and equity in healthcare.”
The report notes that this image appeared on the website on October 26, 2022; the image and statement have since been removed, but the October 22 version can be viewed at the Wayback Machine site.
The website also linked to a June 2020 article, Resources for Combating Systemic Racism. In October, that page included this statement, “For those who want to learn more about systemic racism, self-education is key. Please do not further burden your Black friends and colleagues by asking them to expend the energy necessary to educate you. Rather, do the work and use existing resources to learn more on your own.” The article does not appear to be on the UFCOM website today, but the Wayback Machine site shows the previous version.
UFCOM’s Diversity Statement indicates that race and ethnicity will be considered in admissions to the program: “The College of Medicine will continually strive to promote, support and actively enhance the recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups to its student body, residency training programs, faculty and staff positions, in conjunction with the education in cultural humility of all trainees and healthcare providers.”
The report lists the learning objectives of required courses, including the principles of health equity, distributive justice, and ethics in healthcare law and policy. Another part of the curriculum focuses on “advancing health equity” with topics such as “Teach and practice medicine with cultural humility,” “Describe how social determinants of health influence patient health and health disparities,” and “Examine bias in healthcare delivery and research.” The page referenced by the report for this information is no longer available on UFCOM’s website.
UFCOM’s Code of Ethics includes standard elements like “Do no harm to our patients” but also includes three consecutive statements advising students to acknowledge “anti-racist” principles:
- Foster a just and inclusive community by speaking out against social injustice, racism, prejudice, and inequity.
- Strive to eliminate social barriers to health, health disparities, and inequality within our profession.
- Acknowledge and minimize our implicit and explicit biases as we relate to others.
UFCOM’s Diversity Statement instructs that “Senior leadership must publicly embrace, through broad, repetitive and effective communication, a definitive and unequivocal position that diversity, inclusion, and health equity is synonymous with excellence. The diversity, inclusion and health equity strategy must be communicated as a top down initiative in terms of defining this imperative for excellence.”
UF HEALTH’S YOUTH GENDER CLINIC
The clinic within the UF Health Pediatric Endocrinology Department is headed by Dr. Michael Haller. In a media interview, Haller said that the team provides “gender-affirming treatment” to about 200 patients. A Tampa Bay Times article stated that UF Health is performing mastectomies on girls as young as 16 years old.
Residents in the Department of Pediatrics are now required to work (or at least shadow for a half day) in the Youth Gender Clinic during rotations.
The Department of Pediatrics is also partnering with Southern Legal Counsel to give attorneys access to children receiving care “to identify health-harming needs that create hardships for children and families.” Legal services are also provided to minors in the Youth Gender Program.
The College of Arts, College of Medicine, and College of Education are collaborating to create a theater program for LGBTQIA+ youths between the ages of 13 and 18, sponsored by UF Health. The program was marketed through public high schools. The College of Education’s Mental Health Counselor Training Program provides “free mental health first-aid, confidential on-demand counseling, and referrals as needed,” and the program also partners with the Youth Gender Program.
AFTER THE INJUNCTION AGAINST THE “STOP WOKE ACT”
Within a week after a judge enjoined the “Stop WOKE Act” (HB 7), UF’s Center for Inclusion & Multicultural Engagement began promoting DEI training sessions titled “Foundational Diversity Workshop,” “Antiracism Education,” “Inclusive Leadership,” “Understanding Bias,” and “Inclusive Gators Use Pronouns.” Students are encouraged to complete the courses to earn a “Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging for Students” certificate.
In that same week, UF funded a second round of research on racial disparities.