‘Boycott University of Florida’: DEI termination fuels Left-Right brawl - Hindustan Times

‘Boycott University of Florida’: DEI employees' termination fuels Liberals-Conservatives brawl

Mar 02, 2024 09:26 PM IST

“DEI is toxic and has no place in our public universities,” Gov. Ron DeSantis praised the University of Florida's termination of the DEI offices.

On Friday, the University of Florida implemented an eyebrow-raising termination of all Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) positions and employees. The memo affirmed this step-down complies with the “Florida Board of Governors' regulation 9.016 on prohibited expenditures, the University of Florida has closed the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, eliminated DEI position and administrative appointments, and halted DEI-focused contracts with outside vendors.”

The University of Florida axes its DEI offices in compliance with the Florida Board of Governors' regulation.
The University of Florida axes its DEI offices in compliance with the Florida Board of Governors' regulation.

The memo confirmed that according to the direction of UF Human Resources, afflicted university employees will receive the standard twelve weeks' pay. They've also been allowed to apply for different positions (between now and Friday, April 19) currently posted at the university. The campus newspaper, Independent Florida Alligator, stated that the dismissal affected 13 full-time DEI positions and 15 administrative appointments.

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Florida Gov Ron DeSantis, who's especially stood by his anti-DEI stance, took to his X (formerly Twitter) account and proudly approved the switch. “DEI is toxic and has no place in our public universities. I'm glad that Florida was the first state to eliminate DEI, and I hope more states follow suit," he wrote.

UF halting DEI is a follow-up step to the Florida Board of Governors cutting down on public funding for DEI in January. According to them, the DEI stands out as a "program, campus activity, or policy that classifies individuals on the basis of race, colour, sex, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation and promotes differential or preferential treatment of individuals on the basis of such classification."

Also read: University of Florida axes Diversity, Equity and Inclusion offices; here's why

Reactions to the University of Florida's termination of DEI:

Conservative activist Christopher Rufo took the lead in celebrating the university's decision. He wrote on X: “The conservative-revolution has begun.” However, the internet was overtly divided in its affiliation with any ideology. Social media was clearly demarcated in Left of Right lines as liberals called a boycott campaign into action while conservatives were consumed by their victory lap.

Liberals on UF DEI's shut-down:

An X user equated the shutting down of the DEI offices with the “dumbing down of America". Another one noted: “The University of Florida integrated in 1962. Today they went back to 1961.” Many demanded a boycott, asking, “What are they so afraid of?”

Several X users harked back to how the BLM movement was a step forward for them, but this move retracted everything they'd fought for. “Black athletes & athletes of colour should not attend the University of Florida moving forward,” was one response. Another Twitterati urged Black students, faculty and sponsors to boycott the university as UF was “going back in time."

Several X users encouraged the football team to stand against this: “The entire football team, let alone all students, should transfer and send a message”. On a different note, a tweet highlighted how the DEI was abolished right after Black History Month concluded its run: "How thoughtful of @UF to fire everyone in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion positions the day after Black history month ended. Seems like a well planned "coincidence" to avoid looking completely insensitive in February."

Conservatives stand against the DEI:

On the contrary, conservatives intercepted the DEI rhetoric, claiming “DEI is not about equality.” Another user echoed the same thought: “DEI is toxic. More parents will want their kids to go to a non-woke school.”

A major section of the netizens equated DEI getting axed with the win for “meritocracy”. Another one dug in with the same ideology: “The $5 million dollars that was earmarked for the DEI program is now being spent on recruiting professors.”

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