DeSantis is making New College a stronger, more diverse school
Gov. Ron DeSantis' decision to appoint six new members to New College of Florida's Board of Trustees has set the liberal activists ablaze and generated protests from – among many others – the media, alumni and student body. This self-proclaimed community of "free thinkers, risk takers and trailblazers” seems to be upset that its privileged bubble of publicly funded progressivism might suddenly become more diverse in thought and ideology.
The goal of college as an institution has always been to provide a place where young people are exposed to an array of new ideas and lively debate. A place where kids can learn about – and learn from – other cultures, races and people of different economic standing.
However, somewhere along the way American colleges and universities have increasingly become epicenters of woke ideology. They entirely reject worldviews other than the prevailing liberal narratives of the day; for evidence, just look at all of the disruptive protests that pop up whenever a conservative speaker is invited to any campus across the country.
New College needs more diversity
And that brings us back to New College of Florida, which is a small liberal arts college with 700 or so students.
It has historically been a college where wealthy, predominately white, art-focused liberals send their children to take classes without having to face the pressure of being evaluated by a simple, traditional and, most of all, highly effective grading system.
And it is a school that, in many ways, is hardly a model when it comes to fully embracing racial diversity – for example, African Americans make up only 4% of the student body – or diversity of thought.
New College was founded during the 1960’s counterculture era, and at the time it was viewed as an idyllic oasis amid the rigid, established norms of society and universities. But in 2023, an injection of young Republican, conservative students would actually represent the new counterculture on the New College campus.
So while those who oppose Gov. DeSantis' appointees claim these six new board members are anti-LGBT – and represent some kind of war on academic freedom – they are in fact constructive change agents who can enrich New College by providing it with a greater diversity of political perspectives.
After all, are students at New College of Florida really being well-served taking woke-heavy courses and seminars with titles like "Death, Hell & Capitalism"? Are such courses really helping to prepare them for the highly competitive society they will face in the real world?
A sudden burst of outrage
So why all of the sudden outrage over six right-leaning individuals – six! – being given an opportunity to help shape New College's curriculum?
Where was this outrage during the 60 years of left-leaning indoctrination from activist professors and staff members at a public college supported by taxpayers?
If you are truly interested in being inclusive and promoting diversity, shouldn't you applaud the idea of having people with differing ideologies teaching on the same campus? If you truly have strong morals and better ideas, should you really fear being challenged by "inferior" beliefs?
Many of my fellow young conservatives are calling for the demolition of courses and curriculum that pertain to subjects like critical race theory and Gender Studies, but I believe that college is where such ideas are supposed to be studied. However, these ideas should always be open to being rigorously challenged, and I believe students are doing themselves a disservice by attending schools like New College that don't genuinely embrace a true diversity of thought.
As a result, these students go through college feeling as though they are part of some movement that is somehow more noble and enlightened than the world outside their campus walls. Unfortunately, this only sets them up for anger and disappointment once they leave New College and learn that not everyone in the everyday world thinks the same way they think.
When the pendulum of academia swings too far in one direction, there should be a bipartisan effort to step back and look objectively at how we can expose students to a diverse assortment of curriculum. And, frankly, that means some people will need to settle down and stop freaking out every time a university or college hires a conservative.
It's time for staff members and professors in our universities and colleges to push back a little on the century-long slow takeover of academia. It's time for them to make students mildly uncomfortable by challenging their worldviews with ideas from other political persuasions.
That should be the whole point of higher education, so don't attack Gov. DeSantis for seeking to encourage students to emerge from their bubbles of uniform thought – and open their minds to other views and ideologies.
Jake Hoffman is executive director of the Tampa Bay Young Republicans and the CEO of Invasion Digital Media.
This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: New College students should be thanking DeSantis, not criticizing him