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DeSantis signs bill to defund DEI programs at Florida public colleges

<i>Rebecca Blackwell/AP/FILE</i><br/>Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Rebecca Blackwell/AP/FILE
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

Kit Maher, CNN

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed legislation to defund diversity, equity and inclusion programs at all state universities, which he called a “distraction from the core mission.”

“This is better viewed as standing for discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination, and that has no place in our public institutions,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Sarasota.

“If you want to do things like gender ideology, go to (the University of California) Berkeley,” DeSantis added. “There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but for us with our tax dollars, we want to focus on the classical mission of what a university is supposed to be.”

Under the law, Florida state universities are barred from spending state or federal funds to promote, support or maintain any programs that “advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion, or promote or engage in political or social activism.”

“What this does is reorient our universities back to their traditional mission and part of that traditional mission is to treat people as individuals, not to try to divvy them up based on any type of superficial characteristics,” DeSantis said.

The law also demands that general education courses “may not distort significant historical events or include a curriculum that teaches identity politics” based on “theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, and economic inequities.”

DeSantis signed the legislation at the liberal arts New College of Florida, where he has been steering a conservative takeover. Earlier this year, DeSantis replaced six members of the college’s board of trustees with conservative allies.

In addition, the law gives university presidents and boards of trustees more hiring power.

“They’re more accountable to the people of Florida who they’re using our tax dollars,” DeSantis said. “It’s easier to be able to make changes if they’re failing at their mission.”

Making light of protests at the college, DeSantis said he was “a little disappointed” in the turn out.

“I was hoping for more,” DeSantis said. “It’s all good.”

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