FAU students to protest bill limiting diversity, equity, inclusion education

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 6:25 AM EDT
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Students at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton plan to rally on Wednesday against a proposed bill that aims to restrict the programs and activities that Florida universities and colleges can promote or support.

If HB 999 is passed, it would prohibit universities or colleges from using any funds to promote, support, or maintain any programs or campus activities that support or adopt diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Read the full bill below:

"Free Minds Equals Free Country" is the slogan that FAU students are using as they plan to protest Wednesday afternoon to defend the freedom of education.

Student organizers said they believe HB 999 targets people of color, the LGBTQ community, and women. Specifically, they said the Florida Legislature infringes on the basic principles of democracy.

To some, the bill’s language also seems to restrict what programs Florida colleges and universities can promote or support, calling into question those that are focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

But bill sponsor Rep. Robert Alex Andrade, R-Pensacola, said that is not true

"Purely faculty advisory committees — obviously that would be included — but advisers to specific student groups are not prohibited at all to continue being advisers to those student groups," Andrade said.

Rep. Yvonne Hinson, D-Gainesville, argued otherwise during a discussion on the House committee floor.

"Of course, he answered that it would be zero effect on operations of student activities, student programs, multicultural centers, Black student centers, Latino student centers, or any activities related to students," Hinson said. "Although the bill itself seems to impact all of these different activities."

Besides the protest scheduled for Wednesday at 12 p.m. at FAU, the organizers are also planning to host a webinar Wednesday night with some state senators and representatives to discuss the legislation further. You can watch that webinar by clicking here.

No amendments to the bill have been adopted. Its next stop is the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

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