FGCU Faces Possible Funding Loss for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion after DeSantis’ Proposal

Eric Daugherty, Staff Writer

Governor Ron DeSantis announced a proposal to strip Florida’s public universities’ funding for departments related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) alongside critical race theory. The governor said DEI programs serve as an “ideological filter, a political filter” that has resulted in less successful education.

He pointed to New College of Florida, which is now being overhauled with leadership focusing on “real history” and on the philosophies that formed “western civilization.”

DeSantis’ proposal, according to a press release, aims to prohibit public universities from using “any funding, regardless of source, to support DEI, CRT and any other discriminatory initiatives.”

FGCU has a dedicated webpage for diversity, equity and inclusion. Diversity is also a huge part of FGCU’s mission statement. The members of the school believe in creating and fostering an environment that is both diverse and inclusive for all. The university’s page also says that they “collaborate with other diversity offices on programs, events and initiatives to advance equity and inclusion across the institution.”

FGCU did not provide a response to DeSantis’ calls to defund DEI initiatives, but DeSantis’ proposal could result in changes to FGCU’s mission statement or staff working on matters related to DEI because the proposal would end any funding to support it.

The university’s Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance could also be affected because its mission promotes a celebratory culture of member diversity. The office also provides a certificate for diversity and inclusion.

In regards to critical race theory, some students said DeSantis made the right move.

“CRT is political propaganda and should not be forced upon students,” senior Kaylee Alsip said.  “If you show one side, you should show the other. Unfortunately, professors do not do that, and only show the side which agrees with their political views.”

Many students back up those claims and feel as though DeSantis’ initiatives are a good thing.

“DeSantis’ initiative will ensure universities hire high-quality professors with no discriminatory political filters,” graduate student Matthew Boggan said. “I am positive that under Mr. Ray Rodrigues’ leadership, chancellor of the State University System of Florida, state universities will thrive in the State of Florida.”

With allocated funding students were able to see the benefits of what DeSantis was trying to say.

“I think that stripping funding from public universities in any way shape or form is a positive thing,” junior Brett Lethbridge said. “Especially any funding allocated towards an ahistorical and massively destructive framework such as critical race theory.”

Although a good number of students here at FGCU feel like DeSantis’ choices should be supported, some students feel as though other changes could be made in its place.

“For DeSantis to ask for the Public University System’s spending on diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) and critical race theory are a bit concerning,” senior Sebastian Mercado said. “With his agenda of limiting these resources and education in K-12, it may be a red flag if he asks what the university decides to spend on DEI. It’s what allows us to educate and inform others on information that should be shared.”

There are many resources that are used for these programs in schools and some people may see it as too much, but some students don’t fully think that one way is right and the other is wrong.

“I’m torn because it seems like schools are spending a lot of money on these diversity and inclusion programs to tend to the students going there,” junior Ronique Bobb said. “If you take FGCU for example, some English classes are limited because of staffing. It’s a mix of feelings on whether what he’s doing is the proper approach but having a place where you feel comfortable is just as important.”

As a public university receiving taxpayer dollars, it is up to elected officials on how to allocate those funds, and those officials might be inclined to act on rhetoric that helped get them elected – like being “anti-woke.”