A Invoice proposed by Florida State Representative Alex Andrade, which “prohibits a state college, state university, or any of their direct supporting organizations, from expending state funds or federal funds for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs or activities” has generated significant controversy in the United States
Generally speaking, the bill expands the power of the Florida Board of Governors (the governing body of the Florida State University System) to regulate state-funded higher education by ending the mandate faculty and imposing limits on programs related to “critical race theory” and DEI programs. The Florida State House of Representatives passed the bill. As of this writing, the bill is awaiting action by the Senate.
The vague language combined with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ past actions in Florida’s education sector have led many to express concerns about the law’s effect on classes or organizations discussing or founded around topics like race. A viral post from comedian DL Hughley sums up this interpretation of the bill:
Here, Snopes explores each of the claims made about House Bill (HB) 999 in this viral article. Although the bill does not explicitly ban black and minority fraternities and sororities and other programs, the bill’s vague language makes its downstream effects subject to interpretation and difficult to determine.
Black and minority fraternities and sororities
The viral post states that HB 999 would ban “NPHC organizations” and “NMGC & Latinx organizations.” THE ancient – the National Panhellenic Council – is the umbrella organization behind historically black fraternities and sororities. THE last — the National Greek Multicultural Council — “is an umbrella council for a coalition of multicultural Greek-letter organizations.”
HB 999 does not explicitly ban such institutions, but some observers fear the language of the law could be used for this purpose. For example, the law prohibitions indicate “expenses related to membership in, or purchase of goods or services from, an organization that discriminates on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or religion “.
During the committee debate behind HB 999, state Rep. Yvonne Hinson raised concerns with the bill’s lead sponsor, Andrade, saying that, as written, it would affect lives black Greeks, because reported by local television news channel WPTV:
A sorority member herself, Hinson said her interpretation of the bill is that it could also impact how Black sororities or fraternities operate on campus. … Hinson said the bill’s language could have a greater impact on advisors to any student-led groups or activities related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
“Frankly, professors paid by the university may not be able to be academic advisors to these groups. They won’t be,” Hinson said. “Even if they do, it will intimidate them and create a deterrent.”
Andrade, in answerchallenged this interpretation, saying the bill only affects programs run by faculty and administrators:
In committee, Andrade assured Hinson that the bill would not impact Black sororities and fraternities or their ability to hold social justice events, among other activities. Andrade added that other groups could be affected.
During a Facebook Live event, another state senator, Shervin Jones, argued that the bill is “so vague that HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) or other institutions…that have black fraternities and sororities on their campuses can practically say we will no longer support you on our campuses on the basis of this law.”
Another state representative, Angie Nixon, propose an amendment to the bill that would protect these fraternities and sororities, but it did not pass. While the bill does not explicitly ban minority-oriented Greek life, it remains to be seen what the final version of the measure would look like after it passes the Senate and is approved by DeSantis, just as it remains to be seen what effects the law could have. have on these organizations.
Courses in Jewish studies, gender studies or feminist theory
The viral post claims HB 999 would eliminate courses, majors and minors related to Jewish studies, feminist theory and gender studies. Explicit support can be found in the text of the bill itself for much of this, as well as in the personnel analysis of the bill (it is unclear whether the bill would apply in Jewish studies). As the bill itself describes, HB 999 authorizes the Florida Board of Governors to eliminate majors and minors related to critical theory and related subjects:
The board shall… issue instructions to each constituent university to remove from its programs any major or minor that is based on or otherwise uses educational methodology associated with critical theory, including, but not limited to, critical theory of race, critical race studies, critical ethnicity theory. Studies, radical feminist theory, radical gender theory, queer theory, critical social justice or intersectionality…
Courses that would include these topics are obviously defined broadly. The invoice accompanies analysis provides four examples of courses offered by a Florida institution of higher education that are “integrated” with “DEI and CRT” and would therefore be prohibited by law:
One of the courses… is described as “exploring the structures and institutions of social inequality along the intersectional axes of class, race, and gender/sexuality with a focus on how these categories are socially constructed , maintained and lived. »
A course titled Philosophy of Race, Class, and Gender is described as “a study of selected contemporary philosophical, literary, and journalistic discussions of issues concerning race, class, and gender with particular emphasis on these discussions in the United States -United “.
…A course titled Racism and Antiracism is described as “exploring the concepts of race, racism, and antiracism from a variety of disciplines and perspectives.”
Another course, titled Gender and Climate Change, is described as “exploring how gender inequality across the world is linked to environmental damage and climate change and examines the feminist, indigenous, and LGBTQ movements for climate justice as well as the gender implications of global policies and practices related to climate justice. the environment.”
Even though the final bill did not make it to DeSantis’ desk and the current wording leaves some room for interpretation, the examples provided in the bill’s analysis suggest that courses of study Jewish studies, gender studies or feminist theory could indeed be prohibited by law.
Centers and programs for minority and LGBTQ+ students
The viral post claims that “centers and programs” serving Black, Latinx, Asian, AAPI, and LGBTQ+ students would be removed from the state’s higher education campuses. This comes from a potential ban on state or federal spending on DEI initiatives and a ban on “special benefits granted to individuals on the basis of race,” as described in the bill. analysis:
The bill prohibits the expenditure of state and federal funds by any (state-funded University of Florida) to promote, support, or maintain programs or activities on campus that violate the (Florida Educational Equity Act), defend the diversity, equity and inclusion; promote or engage in political or social activism; or include or embrace… any preferential treatment or special advantage accorded to individuals on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or religion.
During debate on the bill on March 14, 2023, Hinson request “What activities on campus” was Andrade trying to regulate? In response, Andrade said that purely student activities were not affected by the bill. The distinction, according to Andrade, concerns the presence of public funding or the use of professors or administrators, as reported by Florida Politics:
Andrade said if there are university advisory boards overseeing such groups, they will be affected by the bill. But he said individual academic advisors would not be affected. “These student groups may continue to operate as they currently see fit, subject only to the content-neutral policies and procedures that apply to all organizations, student organizations on campus,” he said. declared.
The law project States that “student fees to support student-run organizations are permitted despite any speech or expressive activity of such organizations that would otherwise be infringing” (HB 999). Andrade also emphasized this point: saying that “the on-campus activities that would be discussed or considered by this bill are the on-campus activities carried out by the administration and faculty in their position of power over the students on this campus – student activities are not not included.”
Hinson Express skepticism regarding this claim to local media WPTV. “Of course, he responded that it would have no effect on the operation of student activities, student programs, multicultural centers, black student centers, Latino student centers or any student-related activities,” a- she declared. “Even though the bill itself seems to impact all of these different activities.”
Faculty Tenure Review
The viral post stated that, under HB 999, “tenured professors will be eligible for review” and that “their tenure will be reviewed by the Board of Trustees, who will be selected and appointed by the Governor.” This is undeniably true based on the text of the bill, which added language allowing professors to be subject to “post-employment review at any time for good cause” if the Board of Governors the request. The “cause” could potentially include violations of HB 999:
(Poor performance, negligence, inefficiency or inability to perform assigned duties, insubordination, violation of any applicable law or rule, conduct unbecoming a public official, misconduct, drug abuse, or conviction for a crime.
The Board of Governors is appointed and has, in last yearswas filled with DeSantis allies hostile to topics like DEI and CRT.
HB 999 prohibits state institutions of higher education from funding DEI programs, prohibits funding for federally or state-funded organizations that focus on specific racial minorities or sexual orientations, and prohibits majors , minors, and courses that use “critical theory” of some sort.
The bill’s specific implications regarding Greek life and student-run organizations remain to be seen, and the Florida Senate, also controlled by Republicans, must pass it. his version of the bill next before it reaches DeSantis’ desk.