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Outrage erupts following Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ controversial new legislation

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in his pursuit of a presidential campaign, has taken steps to push his conservative higher education experiment by signing a new law.

The legislation, enacted on Monday at New College of Florida, bans the use of state funds for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs in public universities across the state. Under DeSantis’ influence, the New College board has undergone significant changes, resulting in the elimination of the school’s DEI office. Furthermore, the interim president of the college recently dismissed the diversity dean.

These developments serve as a preview of what other Florida universities may face under SB 266, a crucial component of DeSantis’ ambitious legislative agenda this year. By emphasizing a culture war agenda against perceived “woke” policies, particularly within the university setting, DeSantis aims to solidify his stance as a presidential candidate. He has voiced his disapproval of a campus culture that he believes prioritizes issues related to race, gender, and LGBTQ equity excessively.

In addition to banning state funding for DEI programs, DeSantis’ legislation also imposes restrictions on how gender and race are taught within university campuses. The new law mandates that university officials carefully review any instructional materials that are based on theories suggesting systemic racism, sexism, and privilege are ingrained in the fabric of American institutions and were intentionally designed to perpetuate social, political, and economic disparities.

Throughout Governor DeSantis’ event, the protesters continuously chanted, their voices resonating audibly within College Hall, even during the speeches delivered by the governor and other attendees.

“I saw some of the protesters out there. I was a little disappointed. I was hoping for more,” remarked DeSantis.

Christopher Rufo, a conservative activist appointed by DeSantis to the New College board, also mocked the protestors. As a vocal critic of DEI initiatives, he described the legislation signed by DeSantis on Monday as “reforms of exceptional significance.” He pointed out that he resides in the Seattle area, where protests are commonplace, and belittled the demonstration, stating, “This is kind of kindergarten level protest.”

New College, Florida’s public honors college, has emerged as a focal point in Governor DeSantis’ higher education agenda since he appointed six new board members on January 6. DeSantis has expressed his desire to transform New College into a similar model as Hillsdale College, a private Christian institution located in Michigan.

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