Editor’s note: The following essay first appeared in City Journal.
The University of Florida has created a radical diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) bureaucracy that promotes racial and political preferences in faculty hiring, encourages White employees to engage with a twelve-step program called Racists Anonymous, and maintains racially segregated scholarship programs that violate federal civil rights law.
I have obtained a cache of internal documents via Sunshine Law records requests revealing the stunning scope, scale, and radicalism of UF’s “diversity and inclusion” programs.
Officially, the university has reported to Gov. Ron DeSantis that it hosts 31 DEI initiatives at a cost of $5 million per year. But these figures don’t capture the extent of the university’s rapidly growing DEI complex.
CRITICAL RACE THEORY HAS TAKEN OVER ACADEMIC LIFE AT THIS FLORIDA UNIVERSITY
In reality, DEI is not a series of standalone programs but an ideology that has been embedded in virtually every department on campus. (In an email, a University of Florida spokesman declined to answer specific questions about UF’s DEI bureaucracy and claimed that the university is “not indoctrinating.”)
In reality, DEI is not a series of standalone programs but an ideology that has been embedded in virtually every department on campus.
These changes happened quickly. Following the death of George Floyd in May 2020, UF leaders rolled out a massive number of diversity-focused initiatives.
In July 2020, chief diversity officer Antonio Farias organized a university-wide plan for “antiracism measures,” which included mandatory diversity training for all students, faculty, and staff; an entire academic year focused on “the Black experience, racism and inequity”; a presidential task force to explore the university’s racist past; recommendations for renaming buildings, removing monuments, and banning “historic racist imagery”; and a host of programs, speakers, workshops, and town halls dedicated to racialist ideology.
The programs quickly spread. Under chief diversity officer Marsha McGriff, who replaced Farias in December 2021, DEI blitzed through the university administration.
AT UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA THE DEI SCAM IS ALIVE AND WELL AND COSTS MORE THAN $4 MILLION A YEAR
According to internal documents, McGriff’s three-year plan included the creation of an “institutional equity and inclusion blueprint,” the expansion of a university-wide “DEI infrastructure,” and the deployment of DEI cadres to each division, school, and college, to monitor and enforce DEI ideology at every level of the bureaucracy.
As part of this program, the embedded cadres were tasked with conducting loyalty surveys, with questionnaires asking faculty and staff to rate their agreement with statements evaluating their unit’s “commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” financial support for DEI, and trainings on “unconscious bias” and “micro-aggressions.”
The “institutional equity and inclusion blueprint” has already had a major impact. Slides from a presentation on UF’s six-month “DEI inventory” study, conducted by Damon Williams, the university’s chief strategist for diversity leadership, would appear to show that UF has created 1,018 separate DEI initiatives (slide 55).
Williams’s preliminary survey suggests that the process of ideological capture has spread throughout the university’s departments and divisions: 73 percent “have a DEI committee” and “DEI officer”; 70 percent “espoused commitment to DEI”; 53 percent “have a DEI strategic plan”; and 30 percent have “DEI in annual reports” and use “DEI in performance review.”
One area of focus for the DEI bureaucrats is to forcibly recompose the racial demographics of the professoriate. In 2021, DEI officials administered a survey to measure affirmative action efforts in faculty hiring and to question departments about their commitment to DEI-style hiring. The list of favored practices included “specific formal training in diversity, equity, and inclusion,” advertising through organizations “formed around DEI identity,” retaining an “equity specialist” to advise search committees, explicit race-based recruiting of individuals “from historically underrepresented groups,” and measuring “current workforce demographics” against targets and benchmarks.
The message from the top is not hard to decipher: departments must stack the deck in favor of racial minorities and use racial identity, rather than pure academic merit, as a key qualification in faculty hiring. And the administration will be watching—DEI bureaucrats are maintaining a spreadsheet of departments and faculty that comply with these practices and those that do not.
THE ENDGAME FOR UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA’S RADICAL RACIAL REEDUCATION PLAN
In addition, UF’s Human Resources department has established an “inclusive hiring hub” that offers trainings, guidelines, and an official Inclusive Hiring Badge in support of race-based hiring. As part of this initiative, faculty are encouraged to submit to racial training programs and participate in racially segregated conversation groups, or “affinity groups.”
The university’s official “inclusive hiring” rubric explicitly prioritizes commitments to DEI ideology as part of the faculty hiring process, elevating “commitment to diversity” as one of the “key competencies” for job candidates. Other recommendations include a mandatory “statement on diversity and inclusion,” which, in practice, serves as a political loyalty test.
How does the HR bureaucracy view White faculty and staff? With derision. In a multi-day training program called Connected by UF, for example, the HR department and gender studies professor Trysh Travis lectured employees about their “white privilege,” “white fragility,” and the “‘unearned advantages’ of whiteness.” These supposed aspects of White racial identity, according to Travis, require “diagnosis” and “follow-up” to achieve a cure.
As part of their “personal journey,” White participants were encouraged to engage with a twelve-step program called Racists Anonymous and internalize a series of mantras, including: “We admit our collective history is rooted in white supremacy”; “I have come to admit that I am powerless over my addiction to racism”; “I believe that only a power greater than me can restore me in my humanness to the non-racist creature as God designed me to be.” The ultimate goal? According to one featured resource: “the abolition of whiteness.”
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The UF Counseling & Wellness Center has also become a hotbed of racial ideology. In 2021, the counseling department held a training program, “Healing and Transforming Racial Trauma in the Counseling Field,” that was designed, in the words of speaker Sandra Kim, to dismantle “white supremacy, patriarchy, [and] exploitive capitalism,” which are based on pathological “whiteness.”
The event resembled something of an intersectionality competition, with presenters—all professional-class academics, therapists, and consultants—taking turns positioning themselves with multi-hyphenated oppressed identities and claiming complex “ancestral traumas.” They translated the basic narrative of critical race theory into therapeutic terms, arguing that counselors must practice “intersectionality-oriented care” that transforms the personal into the political—and demand an overturning of society’s basic structures. While whites might have an “individual identity,” explained UF counseling professor Ana Puig, minorities have a “collectivistic identity” and, therefore, healing personal trauma is only possible through political liberation.
Today, Counseling & Wellness Center continues to use psychotherapy as a vehicle for ideology. Administrators and therapists hold racially segregated group-therapy sessions—always organized with a political valence—and promote resources from the activist organization Academics for Black Survival and Wellness, which accuses whites of “white terrorism” and encourages blacks to perform “black resistance.” In this program, one presenter argues that whites are guilty of “physical repression, beatings, whippings, police brutalization, racial programs, [and] psychological torture.” Another claims that “the culture of academia” itself is an oppressive environment that also perpetuates the “institutionalized effects of white terror.”
The objective is not academic scholarship, but Marxist activism: “We got to save life in the universe from these capitalists in America. They’re out to destroy every damn thing. So that’s the mission.”
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UF’s descent into race-based ideology affects student programs, too. Scholarships and other opportunities have turned into something resembling a spoils system, punishing members of the oppressor class and rewarding members of the oppressed class. The university administers and promotes a range of scholarships that explicitly prohibit whites, and sometimes Asians, from applying. The UF/Santa Fe College Faculty Development Project, Minority Teacher Education Scholarship, and McKnight Doctoral Fellowship, to name a few, all prohibit white students from submitting applications, with the latter also excluding Asian students. These racially segregated programs violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but as DEI ideology has become ubiquitous in higher education, administrators have grown accustomed to violating the law with little consequence.
Fortunately, legislators in Tallahassee have taken notice. House Republicans have proposed legislation that would eliminate DEI programming at all Florida public universities. They need to recognize, though, that DEI has embedded itself in every department, program, and initiative. It will take continued vigilance and aggressive enforcement to root out DEI and restore academic excellence as the guiding light of Florida’s public university system.