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As Politicians Attack Campus Diversity Initiatives, HBCU Campuses Wonder How They'll be Affected

As Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida spearheaded a campaign this spring against higher ed’s efforts to create diverse and inclusive campuses, Florida A&M University students were among his most vocal critics.

Friday marked the end of a legislative session in which the state’s conservative politicians zeroed in on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs as pernicious forces that they believe must be eradicated from public colleges. This year and last year, the lawmakers also aimed to restrict teaching about race.

One of DeSantis’s priorities has been the sweeping higher-ed reform bill initially known as HB 999, which would restrict colleges’ spending on DEI programs and give the State University System’s Board of Governors more control over education on the system’s 12 campuses. That bill ultimately moved forward as SB 266 and passed the Legislature last Wednesday; DeSantis has yet to sign it into law.

If enacted, the bill would also ban course curricula and campus activities that “are based on theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent” in American institutions.

As many students at historically Black colleges and universities see it, the recent actions of DeSantis and other Republican politicians across the country diminish the plight of Black Americans, which directly affects HBCUs.

If it becomes illegal for colleges to promote diversity and inclusion, the students wonder, what consequences might that bring for Black institutions?

“I’m not surprised, but I’m disappointed,” said Lebaron Fields, a graduating senior at Florida A&M, of recent political developments in the state. Fields transferred to the historically Black university after one semester at Florida State University, the predominantly white institution just down the road.

Read entire article at Chronicle of Higher Education