DEI is key to higher education. The University of Florida must bring back those programs

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The University of Florida had better wake up and listen to alumni alarmed at the recent decision to ditch diversity, equity and inclusion programs in the state university system. If there is any segment of UF's proud graduates that sees problems with blowing off programs and services that attract a wide range of students and scholars, it's the school's Black alums. Their efforts to reinstate DEI at UF should not be so callously ignored.

Bothered by a disturbing change in school policy, the Coalition of Concerned Black University of Florida Alumni sought redress from the administration. To date, school officials haven't responded to the more than 100 Black UF graduates who called on the school to use private donations to revive DEI services and to do a much better job in boosting the number of Black students and faculty and representation on the Board of Trustees.

Ben Sasse, UF president and other officials, have yet responded to a letter seeking reinstatement of DEI services at the school.
Ben Sasse, UF president and other officials, have yet responded to a letter seeking reinstatement of DEI services at the school.

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"The absence of a robust infrastructure with significant resources to maintain a diverse and inclusive learning environment could lead to adverse short- and long-term consequences that will undermine UF’s standing as a premiere institution of higher education." the coalition said in a letter to University President Ben Sasse, the board of trustees and other top administrators.

The letter is the latest response to an anti-woke law pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2023. Florida, along with a growing number of Republican-led states, now bans the use of government funds for DEI programs, a move to supposedly end discrimination against whites and Asians. Unlike universities in other states that have sought to recalibrate equity efforts, UF last month simply ended its own. Gone are the school's chief diversity officer, program staff and any contracts involving the effort.

In response to a query about the coalition's efforts from Post reporter Andrew Marra, a school spokeswoman cited the obligation to follow the law while assuring every student felt welcomed at UF. "The University of Florida is – and will always be – unwavering in our commitment to universal human dignity," the spokeswoman said in an email.

A warmed-over word salad is hardly the response to valid concerns over a toxic law that undermines the interests of higher learning. A concerned group of alumni has put UF on notice. How the school responds will show if Florida's flagship school is indeed committed to universal human dignity or instead to the whims of a privileged few.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: The University of Florida must listen to its alumni and restore DEI