BOCA RATON, Fla. — Gov. Ron Desantis held a roundtable discussion Monday that targeted Florida's colleges and universities for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives (DEI).
The event was held virtually with no press allowed and included state leaders, students and others in education.
At the beginning of the year, the governor asked Florida's public colleges and universities to report how much money they are spending on DEI. He said they self-reported at least $34 million.
He feels money allocated for DEI is being misused, and the way it is being taught is to impose an ideological agenda at the taxpayers' expense.
"I think it's been used in the administrative apparatus of universities to try and impose not diversity of thought but to try and impose uniformity of thought," DeSantis said. "And instead of inclusion and people that descend from this orthodoxy are actually excluded and marginalized."
A multitude of comments was made by an array of panelists like State University System Chancellor Ray Rodrigues.
"Florida is on the vanguard of ending this nonsense and saying that in Florida we support free speech, free association, and we're not going to be a party to these games," Rodrigues said during Monday's roundtable.
"It's definitely led to less diverse points amongst the faculty, it makes it more difficult for people to get hired in the first place," DeSantis said Monday.
Monday's roundtable discussion also addressed House Bill 999, which would ban majors or minors in critical race theory, gender studies and subjects like intersectionality.
WPTV spent the day on the campus of Florida Atlantic University speaking with students on the curriculum and its changing landscape.
Student Jodie Boisvert said education in Florida is heading in the wrong direction.
"I think any student in the state of Florida, and there are many, who want to study issues looking to solve some of our country's most pressing problems like racism, gender inequality, transphobia, LGBTQ rights," Boisvert said. "Any of these topics that undergraduates, graduate students feel are important, we're not going to be able to study them anymore."
WPTV contacted Palm Beach State College for a response on Monday's discussion held by the governor, but they said they are not commenting. We also emailed Florida A&M University, but they responded by saying they do not comment on pending legislation.