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New College looking to get rid of DEI at first board meeting

A student makes her way past the sign at New College of Florida, Jan. 20, 2023, in Sarasota, Fla.
Chris O'Meara/AP
A student makes her way past the sign at New College of Florida, Jan. 20, 2023, in Sarasota, Fla.

Revamped Board Targets Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

The New College of Florida Board of Trustees is slated to consider policy changes related to diversity, equity and inclusion during its first meeting today with interim President Richard Corcoran.

The board will consider four overarching proposals: “abolish DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) bureaucracies,” “end mandatory diversity training,” “curtail political coercion (mandatory diversity statements)” and “end identity-based preferences.”

The proposals came after Gov. Ron DeSantis in January largely remade the board of the small liberal-arts college in Sarasota by appointing six conservative members.

As part of the proposed changes, the board will decide whether to eliminate the school’s Office of Outreach & Inclusive Excellence. The office has four full-time staff positions and three part-time student positions and has a $442,227 budget.

Under the proposal, Corcoran would eliminate the office and move its staff to other positions.

Corcoran, a Republican former House Speaker and state education commissioner, was selected by the trustees this month to lead the school on an interim basis. The state university system’s Board of Governors subsequently approved a contract that includes a base salary for Corcoran of $699,000, a figure that has gotten pushback from critics who argue the salary is unwarranted.

Another part of the proposed plan would involve discontinuing various training exercises, including diversity, equity and inclusion training for campus police.

The board also is expected to consider approving a regulation that would prohibit spending on a diversity, equity and inclusion office or officer. Diversity, equity and inclusion would be defined, in part, as any “effort to manipulate or otherwise influence the composition of the faculty or student body with reference to race, sex, color or ethnicity, apart from ensuring colorblind and sex-neutral admissions and hiring” in accordance with state and federal laws.

The proposed changes come as DeSantis has backed legislation (HB 999) that would bar colleges and universities from promoting, supporting or maintaining programs related to diversity, equity and inclusion or “critical race theory rhetoric.” The bill is filed for the legislative session that will start March 7.

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