Florida’s latest crackdown on diversity and campus programs is drawing strong reactions from UCF students. More than 100 students showed up for public comment and to protest outside the Board of Governors meeting Thursday.
The state law strips money from campus programs and groups that engage in political or social activism as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion. It’s the latest move from the DeSantis administration to strengthen the “Stop Woke Act,” a law aimed at eliminating groups the state says are “exclusionary.”
“That is every single topic that they would not be able to engage in for fear of losing state or federal funds. That’s why students are speaking up,” said Democratic Senate candidate Guillermo-Smith. “It’s why they’re resisting these DeSantis attacks on their academic freedoms and on their freedom of speech.
Former lawmaker Guillermo-Smith called the wording “vague,” saying it puts many clubs at risk.
“A college should be a space in which people are allowed to organize to gain access to all sorts of different ideas that they wouldn’t be exposed to,” said UCF Student Taylor Wolford. “So, something like this is just blatant censorship, especially considering that we’re the largest college in the country or one of them.”
“It’s really unfortunate when you see so many people that have different dreams, different values, have different ambitions, have their dreams cut short, purely based on a political basis,” said UCF Student Allison Minarelly.
But it wasn’t just students concerned.
“It’s upsetting to me that this has always been a safe place for all our students from different backgrounds, different cultural groups. It feels like this is not a safe place anymore,” said UCF Anthropology Professor Dr. Brigitte Kovacevich. “And that scares me for myself and my students.”
We’ve asked UCF how many groups would be impacted, but the school has not said thus far.
Despite the dozens who showed up for public comment, the board’s hands were largely tied by state law. The vote was a public notice of intent over how they will vote officially. That will take place at their next meeting in late January.
Also, following that law, the board voted in favor of dropping sociology as a general education course at Florida universities across the state. It also voted in favor of banning transgender students from using restrooms that reflect their gender identities. Although, it does include a requirement for unisex options.