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The controversial HB 999 bill creates conversations among students

By Malik Burgess

The Florida House of Representatives recently advanced a bill that would ban all state colleges and universities from using funds to promote, support, or maintain any programs and campus activities that expose diversity, equity, or inclusion (DEI) and critical race theory rhetoric. The bill would also give the state’s board of governors the ability to remove any major or minor that is based on or otherwise used to exploit critical theory.

House Bill 999, also known as ‘Public Postsecondary Educational Institutions,’ provides requirements for employment, promotion, & evaluation processes for state university employees. If passed, the chair of the state board of education and the chair of the board of governors will jointly appoint faculty committees to review and identify general statewide education core course options.

Florida State student, Isabella Ensign explains her displeasure about the outcome of the bill.

“One of the main reasons that I chose Florida State was because they have a lot of queer studies and a lot of interesting English courses that I enjoy, and I am personally heartbroken that those courses might be taken away,” Ensign said.

Ensign added that “seeing organizations such as the pride student union and the Black Student Union being defunded when we’re 15 minutes from the capitol at our school is very disheartening.”

The controversial bill would further empower the Florida public university Board of Governors to enforce the law as it sees fit. This includes the rewriting of state universities’ mission statements and allowing each university’s board of trustees the ability to review faculty members’ tenure at will. Florida State student, Alexis Dorman, believes that it is now in the student’s hands to advocate.

“I think different student-run protests and rallies show that when the Florida Legislature fails to show up time and time again for their students, students aren’t afraid to go out and advocate for better futures themselves regardless of what is going on inside the Governor’s mansion or the Florida Capitol,” Dorman stated.

The bill will allow restrictions to state universities from using diversity, equity, and inclusion statements, critical race theory rhetoric, or other forms of political identity filters as part of the hiring process, which includes applications for employment, promotion, and tenure and conditions of employment. This would be put in place for any position at the university, including the president.

FSU student and NAACP President, Bria Renna, spoke about the overall effects of the bill.

“I strongly believe that there is true power in numbers, and we all need our voices to come together as one. Our history is indeed U.S. history and our history matters. Attending a PWI (predominantly White institution) where I am a minority, I try my hardest to be the voice for the voiceless and our governor wants to take that away,” Renna said.

The bill has previously passed through the house committee and the Florida state senate must now pass its version of the bill before it reaches Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk. If passed, the bill would be effective starting July 1st.