UNF Student: Florida Using 3 Words To End Educational Freedom, Economic Standing

UNF Student: Florida Using 3 Words To End Educational Freedom, Economic Standing

Diversity, equality and inclusion have become very divisive words, but should they? Speaking about Florida's SB 266, Sen. Corey Simon said, “I want you to understand how to think about it. In my opinion, this is what should happen in our universities."

This desire best describes academic freedom. Simons, however, voted YES to the Senate bill, saying, "No institution of the University System of Florida may expend funds, regardless of source, to promote, support, or maintain campus programs or activities that violate Florida's education [law]. The Equality Act ] or [those that embrace] theories of diversity, equity and inclusion or critical race”.

These words tell us that programs that promote equality are in breach of the Equality Act and disclosure requires an opt-out.

Irreconcilable differences. OneJax has sided with the United Nations, which is necessary to protect its mission of "freedom" and diversity.

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What happens when all of Florida's public colleges and universities begin closing programs and offices? The program and office includes disability and accessibility courses in American history, psychology, drama, conflict resolution, women's and LGBTQ issues, interfaith and diversity centers and all elementary and high schools that cover these three parts.

Florida's 12 public universities spent more than $34.5 million on diversity, equity and inclusion programs and activities last year. However, none of these schools spent more than 1% of the total budget for this. These programs and activities are not required at any Florida college or university. Undergraduate and graduate students, mostly over 18, choose to participate on their own.

Eliminating these programs will likely result in the loss of students enrolled in them and students who plan to enroll in them. Instead, students can choose colleges or universities in other states. As a result, we will also lose the apartment, food and taxes. The same applies to all college and university employees and designated programs and offices.

These students are our future health workers, educators, legislators and more. Would they go back to Florida with this law, getting their education elsewhere? Is it worth saving less than 1% of your college budget for tuition, living expenses, and taxes for these students?

We can work together to change this outcome. Come, write, email or tweet our governors and representatives. Let's tell them how we want it now and in the future. House Bill 999 was passed and is currently in the Education and Employment Committee. Related to that is SB 266, which also graduated and is now in the Education Appropriations Committee.

After that, it will depend on the governor's vote. Let's finish the current bill.

Jennifer Wells is a graduate student at the University of North Florida. He lives in Ponte Vedra.

This guest column is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Times-Union. We welcome diversity of opinion.

This article originally appeared in the Florida Times-Union. Education freedom, state economy threatened by DEI program cuts

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