Earlier this month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed six new members, including some outspoken conservatives, to New College of Florida’s board of trustees. New College is the most liberal and LGBTQ+-led campus in Florida, and DeSantis’ recent selections upset students, staff, faculty and supporters of the school in Sarasota.
Some students even protested outside Sarasota County’s legislative delegation to voice their lack of support for DeSantis’ actions to transform New College.
Chris Baker, a student senator at Florida A&M University, believes DeSantis’ New College decisions are unfair.
“How can [DeSantis] go and change things to make it more conservative,” Baker said. “He could’ve made the board more balanced by adding people from the left and right, but instead, he made it all conservative, and I feel like that’s unjust.”
Elijah Hooks, another student senator at FAMU, says this is only the beginning of DeSantis’ plans to shake things up in higher education in the Sunshine State.
“This is just the start, [DeSantis] is going to use that college and use different colleges to create, as I call them, ‘conservative academies’ to push his conservative ideas and ideologies to people who don’t want to represent that. I find it a disgrace that he is doing this, and I feel he should be held accountable for this,” Hooks said.
Hooks is afraid that FAMU may be next on DeSantis’ hit list.
“I do fear that [DeSantis] will come for FAMU. He’s trying to rule out diversity and inclusion. I know FAMU accepts different races other than African American, and that is a part of our diversity and equity inclusion efforts here at FAMU, which he will attack as he is attacking at other colleges.” Hooks said.
So, the question is: Is Florida A&M University next in line to get a transformation by DeSantis?
Zach Bell, FAMU’s SGA president and a board of trustees member, says some members of FAMU’s board of trustees terms are coming to an end, but the board has not talked to DeSantis about having new members join the board.
“We haven’t been in communication [with DeSantis] at all regarding any type of new board members or the current state of the board.”
However, Bell did express his thoughts on how FAMU should move, being that DeSantis is coming for higher education.
“I think that these are really scary times. But I think we won’t allow FAMU to be shaken. Now more than ever, this is the time for us to stand together, united as Rattler Nation in whatever changes may potentially come.” Bell said