Palm Beach State College, Indian River State College to lose state, federal funding for diversity efforts

2 sides: 'DEI demands discrimination' and works to 'ensure that the playing field is level'
Posted at 11:56 PM, Jan 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-18 08:21:15-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Florida Department of Education announced Wednesday taxpayer funds can no longer be used to promote diversity, equity and inclusion on Florida's 28 state college campuses, including Palm Beach State College and Indian River State College.
"All that diversity equity and inclusion programs do is to ensure that the playing field is level," David Wiggins, with the South Palm Beach County branch of the NAACP, said. "I'll say like Rev. Jesse Jackson, keep hope alive and fight like Muhammad Ali."



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Wiggins said the regulation is an assault on American values, calling it disheartening days after celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Day Jr. on Monday.

David Wiggins is with the South Palm Beach County branch of the NAACP. Jan. 17, 2023
David Wiggins is with the South Palm Beach County branch of the NAACP.

Wiggins worries that this move will cause companies and other sources of funding to pull back on their donations, but is urging them to continue helping with DEI.
"We have a governor who is hell-bent, if you will, on removing anything that embraces and celebrates diversity and individuals or companies may not want to be challenged either legally or in the court of public opinion," Wiggins said. "We, as of late, see individuals who believe that diversity is some kind of evil, versus the beauty that makes us the United States of America."

Wiggins said the plan is to educate, mobilize and vote.
"We have to out-organize individuals who seek to strip us of our democratic values and our democratic identities," Wiggins said.

Palm Beach State College's student body as of fall of 2021 is mostly Hispanic or Latino at 32.9%, followed by 28.9% being white and 28% Black or African American.
At Indian River State College, as of 2023, the student body was mostly white at 65.9%, followed by 17.2% Hispanic or Latino, then 11.3% Black or African American.
"Are you opposed to DEI in general or just funding for DEI programs?" WPTV reporter Joel Lopez asked Thomas Kenny, who works for Moms for Liberty.
"Well, I'm opposed to in general, which is going to lead to funding," Kenny said.

Thomas Kenny is with Moms for Liberty. Jan. 17, 2024
Thomas Kenny is with Moms for Liberty.

Moms for Liberty focuses on grade school levels, but Kenny said many students are dually enrolled in college and calls DEI discriminatory against people who aren't under the umbrella.

Last year, Florida public universities self-reported that they spent at least $34 million on DEI.

Florida's Board of Governors has already introduced similar DEI regulations for institutions in the State University System.

Florida Atlantic University reported it received $904,025.84 in funding for DEI-related programs and resources, $642,775.84 of which was state-funded.

That's money Kenny said he'd rather go back to improving campuses, technology and classrooms.
WPTV contacted Palm Beach State College and Indian River State College but did not hear back in time for broadcast.