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'We're still going to be here': FAU students find new purpose for shuttered DEI office

'We're going to be writing and using our freedom of speech,' Mary Rasura says
Posted at 6:09 PM, May 21, 2024

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Inside the office that until last year housed the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) program on the Florida Atlantic University campus, the paid staff are gone and so are some of the signs and furniture.

Despite this, the students remain.

"It's kind of like a general gathering space," senior Mary Rasura said. "You can defund the center and remove the center, like take the letters off the wall, [but] we're still going to be here."

Mary Rasura discusses why students are using the former DEI office to hold meetings.
Mary Rasura discusses why students are using the former DEI office to hold meetings.

In May 2023, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that banned all DEI programs on state college campuses.

"DEI is better viewed as standing for discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination, and that has no place in our public institutions," DeSantis said at the bill signing event last year.

Rasura said by the end of that year the DEI office at FAU was emptied, and it was then she thought of giving the room a new purpose.

"It's kind of disheartening, but as a journalism major I thought this was the most productive thing to do," Rasura said.

Ximena DiPietro discusses why Florida Atlantic University students are meeting in the same room that used to be for DEI programs.
Ximena DiPietro discusses why Florida Atlantic University students are meeting in the same room that used to be for DEI programs.

She and other students founded "OutFAU," a student-run, privately funded LGBTQ+ newspaper. The former DEI office became their meeting place.

"We're going to be writing and using our freedom of speech to organize and write about what's going on," Rasura said.

The students on the newspaper staff admit feeling angry and disappointed at losing the DEI office, but they said they've now managed to find a productive solution for a place that means a lot to them.

"It represents a room of community, first and foremost, community where we can create work that is our own," senior Ximena DiPietro said.