Axios journalist Ben Montgomery sent an angry email responding to the Florida Department of Education’s press release on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in higher education.
Montgomery received the press release from Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office, which reviewed details from the governor’s roundtable on the “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Scam in Higher Education.” Alex Lanfranconi, the education department’s communications director, posted a screenshot of Montgomery’s emailed response.
“This is propaganda, not a press release,” Montgomery wrote.
— Alex Lanfranconi (@AlexLanfran) March 13, 2023
DeSantis’ deputy press secretary Jeremy Redfern questioned Montgomery’s journalism ethics in response to the screenshot. (RELATED: MSNBC Columnist Shamelessly Grovels After Big DeSantis Scoop Is Proven False)
“Is this journalism?” Redfern asked.
Is this a journalism?
— Jeremy Redfern (@JeremyRedfernFL) March 13, 2023
DeSantis pledged to defund DEI programs at public universities, which he referred to as “ideological” and “political filters,” and prohibit universities from promoting activities that promote DEI or critical race theory (CRT). In January, he announced his plan to appoint six new members to New College of Florida’s board of trustees to ensure that DEI and other “equity” programs are kept away from the campus.
During the roundtable, two Florida students accused DEI programs of discriminating against them and their fellow classmates. One of them added that she is “always” excluded or rejected from groups on campus for being conservative.
“All of my professors, especially now that I’m in my upper-level classes, every time we make a mistake or a calculation mistake they like to remind us that one mistake could cost the lives of hundreds of people,” Ally Matamoros, a University of South Florida engineering student, said. “It could be the equivalent of a bridge collapsing. It could be a nuclear explosion, and I feel like moving away from merit-based systems and focusing solely on superficial and the fact that we need to have diversity, you’re opening up the fact that more of these mistakes can happen.”
Another student named Darryl Boyer said DEI forces students to view everything in terms of race and sexuality.
State data found that public universities have spent approximately $15 million of taxpayer dollars on DEI programs and initiatives.