DeSantis-Backed College Trustees Ax Diversity Office

(Screenshot/YouTube/New College of Florida)

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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The New College of Florida (NCF) Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to disband an office tasked with advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) on campus, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

The trustees voted to abolish the Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence, which prioritized diversity, community outreach and inclusivity, during Tuesday’s board meeting and will offer its four employees new jobs at the college, according to the Tribune. The board also voted to eliminate the use of diversity statements in the hiring process and to ask interim President Richard Corcoran, former state education commissioner, to issue a ban on employee diversity training. (RELATED: ‘Our Safety Is At Risk’: Florida Students Melt Down After DeSantis Appoints Conservatives To College Board)

The move was anticipated after Christopher Rufo, a Manhattan Institute fellow and trustee appointed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, motioned to abolish the office during the Jan. 31 meeting. The motion was withdrawn after lengthy debate to revise the language and conduct a review into DEI on campus, the results of which were presented by Brad Thiessen, college administrator, on Tuesday, the Tribune reported.

Trustees Grace Keenan, Matthew Lepinski and Mary Ruiz voted against eliminating the diversity office after raising concern that the scope of DEI is overstated, the Tribune reported. Thiessen’s report revealed that asking job applicants to submit diversity statements is a new standard and that there are few mandatory trainings for employees.

“I’m concerned that we’re solving a problem that isn’t serious, or doesn’t really exist,” Lepinski said.

Of the four employees staffed at the disbanded office, only one position focused on DEI. The other three were tasked with grant management, community outreach or other less-controversial activities.

Keenan said that the evidence provided showed “not a very impressive DEI bureaucracy,” according to the Tribune. Rufo agreed that the DEI activity was less than he thought but that it still needed to be removed on “principle.”

The board also voted for Cocoran to establish a policy prohibiting the college from spending money to advance DEI programming, the Tribune reported. DEI was defined as “any effort to manipulate or otherwise influence the composition of the faculty or student body with reference to race, sex, color, or ethnicity” and “any effort to promote as the official position of the administration, the college, or any administrative unit thereof, a particular, widely contested opinion referencing unconscious or implicit bias, cultural appropriation, allyship, transgender ideology, microaggressions, group marginalization, anti-racism, systemic oppression, social justice, intersectionality, neo-pronouns, heteronormativity, disparate impact, gender theory, racial or sexual privilege, or any related formulation of these concepts.”

DeSantis appointed six conservative trustees in January which effectively tipped the board’s majority. The board voted at its January meeting to terminate former president Patricia Okker in place of Corcoran in the interim.

The NCF Board of Trustees did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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