DEI programs are meant to ensure that everyone has the support they need to be successful and to feel included at their university, especially when they have different backgrounds or opinions.
Gov. Ron DeSantis and House Speaker Paul Renner have recently cast doubt on such programs. DeSantis’ office called DEI a tactic by “liberal elites” who want to indoctrinate people, while Renner said he hoped to stop colleges and universities from “promoting an aggressively ideological agenda under the guise of diversity, equity and inclusion.”
And the governor announced on Jan. 31 that he plans to defund the programs through new legislation.
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Here’s what DEI means:
- Diversity is a broad term for the many things that make people unique. That includes not only age, race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, but also different religions, political beliefs, languages, work experiences, incomes, education backgrounds, physical abilities and a host of other factors.
- Equity means ensuring that everyone has access to needed resources and acknowledging that people’s needs differ, especially if someone comes from a historically disadvantaged background. Equity is different from the term “equality,” which means everyone is treated the same.
- Inclusion means differences are respected and everyone is welcome to participate on campus.
State universities made DEI a priority about two years ago, shortly after the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing calls for racial equality in America. Leaders from the State University System and the Board of Governors solidified their goals in an October 2020 memo.
“The State University System of Florida (SUS) has had a longstanding commitment to promote respect for and appreciation of all diverse cultures, nationalities, and communities,” the memo sspanid.
“A university’s strategic plan, as well as its mission statement, should prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion and provide clear direction for the total integration of D.E.I. initiatives throughout the institution,” it continued.