Proposed Florida bill could bring changes to state universities

Avani Maharaj, Staff Writer

A bill currently making its way through the Florida legislature may result in changes to state universities.

The proposed bill, HB999, would prohibit the use of diversity, equity, inclusion statements and critical race theory rhetoric as part of the hiring process and ban courses that teach about race, gender studies and intersectionality at Florida colleges and universities.

Critics of the bill see the proposed changes as a part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ plan to push state universities to the far right.

The bill would give the Florida Board of Governors, which is already the governing body of the state universities, more authority over universities, including their mission statements and hiring processes.

According to the proposed bill:

“The board shall periodically review the mission of each constituent university and provide updates or revisions to such mission as needed; examine existing academic programs at each constituent university for alignment with the university’s mission; and provide direction to each constituent university on removing from its programs any major or minor in Critical Race Theory, Gender Studies, or Intersectionality, or any derivative major or minor of these belief systems, which is any major or minor that engenders beliefs in the concepts.”

The proposed bill raised concerns about what these changes would mean for black fraternities and sororities, but Gov. DeSantis stated that the bill would not prohibit historically black colleges and universities or other student-led multicultural organizations in the state.

Joe Cohn, the legislative and policy director at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, according to KHOU 11, told VERIFY that the bill “isn’t going to ban student organizations that are associated with minority groups. What it does do, though — which is still a problem — is that it prevents the university from entering into partnerships with those organizations on events that promote ideas that the government thinks are bad.”

The bill also establishes standards for general education core courses in Florida, which include communication, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and mathematics.

“General education core courses may not suppress or distort significant historical events or include a curriculum that teaches identity politics, such as Critical Race Theory, or defines American history as contrary to the creation of a new nation based on universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.”

To learn more about what the proposed bill changes for Florida universities and colleges, read the full proposal here.