Trust & Verify: Gov. Ron DeSantis takes steps to ban diversity, equity and inclusion programs at Florida colleges

Reporter: Kellie Miller
Published: Updated:

Governor Ron DeSantis announced his plan to ban diversity, equity and inclusion programs, including critical race theory, at Florida colleges. He made his intentions clear at a press conference on Jan. 31, 2023, in Bradenton, Florida.

“We are also going to eliminate all DEI and CRT bureaucracies in the state of Florida,” he said. “No funding, and that will wither on the vine.”

DeSantis announced a handful of proposals, which are all part of his higher education reform plan. The plan proposes changes to coursework and degree requirements, gives university presidents and boards of trustees more power over hiring and firing, and restricts certain concepts.

The governor’s office released a press release about the legislation, calling diversity, equity and inclusion programs “discriminatory.” It says the 2023 proposal “prohibits higher education institutions from using any funding, regardless of source, to support DEI, CRT, and other discriminatory initiatives.”


WINK News obtained an email sent to faculty at FGCU from the Florida House of Representatives. The email is addressed to FGCU President Michael Martin and requests documents pertaining to DEI offices and programs within the State University System.

The email says, in part, “The Florida House of Representatives, through the Speaker of the House, requests the documents and information described below in order to assess the costs and benefits of the DEI offices and programs within the State University System.”

Here are some of the requests:

  • A list of all current Diversity, Equity and Inclusion employees and other DEI employees
  • The job description for each current DEI employee and other DEI employee
  • A list that identifies each current DEI employee’s annual salary or hourly wage, as applicable, and that separately identifies the annualized dollar amount of benefits provided to each DEI employee and other DEI employees.
  • A copy of every contract between the University and a DEI Contractor. The timeframe for this request extends to all contracts that were in effect at any time since Jan. 1, 2020.

WINK News spoke to FGCU professor Jennifer Sughrue about the governor’s proposal and the requests. Sughrue is a professor at the College of Education and specializes in education, law, and policy.

“To limit what can be discussed is a disservice to democracy,” she said.

Sughrue believes the governor’s proposal has a significant effect on free speech and academic freedom, and she argues the move is for political gain more than for societal benefit.

“Now they want names, they want names of professors, they want contact information, they want access to their emails,” she said.

WINK News has reached out to FGCU President Michael Martin to find out if and when the university might comply.

“It is the citizens who need to monitor government,” Sughrue said. “So, if government restricts speech, then citizens are in less of an informed position to govern them to hold them accountable. And this, to me, is exactly what’s happening.”

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