TAMPA, Fla. — The changes taking place at Florida colleges and universities are not new.
Changes to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion laws have been in the news since May when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bills in to law.
What You Need To Know
- Changes taking over college campuses statewide as new semester begins
- Changes to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion laws have been in the news since May when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bills into law
- RELATED STORY: DeSantis signs bill defunding diversity, equity and inclusion programs at state universities
Proponents of DEI programs say they promote diversity within universities and can result in a more equitable outlook for minorities.
But as colleges begin fall semesters, officials that represent professors say the reality is setting in.
"Faculty are leaving in droves,” said Irene Mulvey, President of the American Association of University Professors. “There are reports that they are having trouble filling faculty lines with faculty. Not accepting positions even when they don't have another offer."
“And the faculty that are staying, they are revamping their courses to remove anything that is even remotely controversial because the laws are so deliberately vague."
Senate Bill 266 also bars general core classes 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.” These theories are commonly referred to as critical theory, or more specifically, critical race theory.
Mulvey said the bill specifically targeting DEI programs on campuses, Senate Bill 266 prohibits certain topics from being taught in general education courses.
The bill also states that general core classes may not "distort" significant historical events or teach identity politics.
And House Bill 931 which prohibits state funded colleges from asking students and faculty to sign diversity statements or what the governor calls political loyalty oaths.
Mulvey said not only is the new legislation restrictive for faculty and staff, it restricts what young men and women can learn about as they prepare for their careers.
“In a democracy, the roll of higher education is to be a public good,” she said. “And these laws are undermining that role and replacing the expertise of scholars and experts with, you know, what the government wants you to learn.
“It's really dangerous, it's an authoritarian impulse to take over higher education."
There is a lawsuit that is targeting the new legislation. It was filed earlier this month in federal court by students and staff of New College in Sarasota.
That suit is asking for a court order to block the legislation from being enforced.