March 2, 2024 - 1:00pm

Florida’s clear-out of DEI has taken a new victim: the entire $5 million DEI department of the top public university in the US. 

The University of Florida is gutting its DEI department, firing all DEI employees and halting DEI-focused outside contracts, the school announced Friday. The programme’s funding will be diverted into other jobs, with the school cutting 13 full-time DEI jobs and 15 administrative appointments.

“The University of Florida is – and will always be – unwavering in our commitment to universal human dignity,” the announcement read. “As we educate students by thoughtfully engaging a wide range of ideas and views, we will continue to foster a community of trust and respect for every member of the Gator Nation”.

The move comes in response to a state regulation blocking university funding of DEI, defined as “any program, campus activity, or policy that classifies individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation and promotes differential or preferential treatment of individuals on the basis of such classification.”

It’s the latest in a statewide battle against DEI. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation banning DEI in public colleges and universities in May 2023. The same bill also blocks general education course curriculum that “teaches identity politics… or is based on theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States”. 

UF was previously subject to national news coverage when former Republican Senator Ben Sasse took the helm as president in early 2023, sparking student protests. During his interview process, protesters flooded a university building and disrupted proceedings, shouting out accusations of racism and homophobia. 

DeSantis has also launched something of a conservative takeover of the New College of Florida, appointing six members to its 13-member board of trustees. The new board subsequently fired the school’s president and disbanded its Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence. 

Several other red states have recently passed laws restricting DEI in education, including Texas and Utah, while a handful of other conservative states are currently considering similar legislation. “DEI is toxic and has no place in our public universities,” DeSantis wrote on X Friday. “I’m glad that Florida was the first state to eliminate DEI and I hope more states follow suit.”

is UnHerd’s US correspondent.