Alexis Dorman, president of the College Democrats at Florida State, refuses to simply watch as the Legislature works to do away with diversity programs at Florida’s public colleges and universities.
Dorman was a driving force behind Wednesday’s rally in opposition to House Bill 999, which will eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the state system.
“HB 999 is really scary and real for a lot of people who are going to school in Florida,” Dorman said.
FSU student Andres Cubillos helped organize the rally, which featured a march from the Capitol to the Governor’s Mansion and back. Some 50-60 people, mostly FSU students, took part.
Dorman told the crowd to keep chanting while in front of the Governor’s Mansion.
Rep. Alex Andrade introduced HB 999, named “Public Postsecondary Educational Institutions.” According to flsenate.gov, it provides requirements for colleges and universities and their presidents and boards of trustees relating to general education courses.
FSU student Jack Folwell broke down the bill for people who might not understand its implications.
“This bill at its core is trying to defund diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at all state universities,” Folwell said. “There are hundreds of programs across the state that are potentially threatened.”
The bill states that “the Board of Governors provides direction to each constituent university on removing from its programs any major or minor in critical race theory, gender studies, or intersectionality, or any derivative major or minor of these belief systems.”
Majors at Florida State like Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies could be under review and possibly removed if this legislation is approved. Florida A&M University currently does not have any gender study majors or minors. Although classes that discuss race, like CCJ 5669 RACE Gend Crime, could be removed as well.
HB 999 is targeting faculty and administration, making it harder for them to speak out. Andres Cubillos, who also has started a petition, shared why student voices are important.
“Student voices are incredibly important and we are the largest and most diverse voting demographic,” Cubillos said. “We have the power to completely alter the course of election cycles and we saw that with the Michigan elections.”
As of Tuesday, HB 999 is currently set for its first reading. With Republicans holding a super-majority in both chambers of the Legislature, the bill’s prospects appear rock solid.
FSU’s Jack Folwell urged students from all over the state to get to Tallahassee and speak with legislators.
“You can remind the legislator that we are their constituents,” Folwell said. “And if they don’t listen to us, we will vote them out.”