By Ari Kaufman,
I find the term “swamp” to be ambiguous and misleading, especially considering many media pundits and politicians who invoke the smear are often themselves the epitome of Washington, D.C.
But since the University of Florida (UF) calls its football stadium “The Swamp,” it’s appropriate that the Sunshine State is endeavoring to lead universities in draining some edu-leftism.
There is no hope for my alma mater, the University of California, in-arguably the most left-wing and corrupt college system around, nor is there hope for state universities in blue places like Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and even more purplish states like Wisconsin and North Carolina. But with the leadership of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and incoming UF president Ben Sasse, the former U.S. senator, the Sunshine State has a great opportunity.
More than two dozen presidents of Florida‘s public universities recently pledged to tone down their schools’ dangerous obsession with the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) agenda. They vowed to promote open access, not racial preferences, critical race theory, or ideologies that condemn diversity of thought.
These presidents thankfully seek intellectual diversity on campus, not a vacuous one based on skin color or gender.
The university presidents’ statement is tepid and, therefore, shouldn’t be controversial. They simply vowed to remove any “instruction, training, and policies” that advocate for reverse discrimination or discourage debate. Unfortunately, these aren’t efforts to remedy actual curricula, nor even a promise to decrease the number of supercilious DEI administrators; the latter is relevant when 12 of UF’s 16 colleges have at least one dean-level DEI officer.
After decades of futile reforms to higher education, it’s a start, yet a bolder approach is needed. DEI is an amoral, regressive ideology destroying our once-proud schools because, above all else, it weaponizes “anti-discrimination” laws to intimidate well-meaning dissenters.
Florida’s Board of Governors — which sets policy for the state’s higher education — can roll back the system’s DEI programs and insist on meaningful curricular changes. Those revisions should start at UF, the nation’s fourth-largest school by enrollment.
The sanguine Sasse already shared some ideas about re-establishing leadership and building a new regime because he knows DEI cannot peacefully coexist with a realistic vision for education.
Approved unanimously after being recruited for the school’s top role, the Nebraskan can begin by abolishing the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer. This cabal has four non-diverse staff members who make more than a half-million dollars combined. What do these women do for such a lofty income? The Office claims to cultivate “multicultural skills,” but its real goal is to build a massive network of administrators, faculty, and naive students obsessed with DEI lunacy.
Sasse can eradicate funding for meaningless programs about race, equity, and social justice, as well as Ibram Kendi books and workshops on “institutional bias,” like a divisive series dedicated to “racism and inequity.”
The list is endless, but on the positive reform side, let’s increase the size of scientific, engineering, and medical footprints on major campuses. Use the money saved by abolishing the DEI administration to attract the best scientific minds. Let recruiters scour the country for real academic leaders to head this initiative. The best non-woke minds should gather in Gainesville — or wherever — with an aim to be a premier engine for scientific progress. This, unlike DEI balderdash pushed by Democrat governors, will help students and the country.
The emphatic victory by Florida Republicans in last fall’s election provides a unique opportunity to extinguish detestable wokeism. During his eight years in office, Sasse arguably was the most thoughtful mind in Washington; along with the intrepid DeSantis, Florida’s two Republican U.S. senators, and Florida’s Board of Governors, he can set an example for the entire country and begin the foreboding work of recapturing his new campus from the DEI tyrants.
Ari Kaufman is a correspondent for several U.S. newspapers and magazines from Minnesota and Ohio to Tennessee and Virginia. He taught school and served as a military historian before beginning his journalism career. The author of three books, he is also a frequent guest on radio programs and contributes to Israel National News and here at The Lid.