The University of Central Florida has adopted radical Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programming that segregates students by race, condemns the United States as “white-supremacist culture,” and encourages active discrimination against the “oppressor” class, characterized as “male, White, heterosexual, able-bodied, and Christian.”
Officially, UCF reports that it has 14 separate DEI programs, costing in the aggregate more than $4 million per year. But this dramatically understates the reality, which is that the ideology of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” has been entrenched everywhere. The university’s administration and academic departments have created a blizzard of programs, classes, trainings, reports, committees, certifications, events, documents, policies, clubs, groups, conferences, and statements pledging UCF to left-wing racialism.
These programs, long in the making, exploded into prominence following the death of George Floyd in 2020. As the administration signaled that it was endorsing the Black Lives Matter movement, the academic departments immediately fell into line. The sociology department pledged allegiance to BLM and blasted the “anti-Blackness at the heart of US white-supremacist culture.” The physics department released a statement promising to address “systemic anti-Black racism in policing” and its own “power and privilege.” The anthropology department published a statement denouncing white European “hegemonic systems” and vowed to “advocate for a more inclusive society based on the principles of cultural relativism.”
The ideology that underpins the university’s DEI programming follows the basic mantras of critical race theory: America is a racist nation divided between white oppressors and minority oppressed, and society, using the logic of “antiracism,” must actively discriminate against the oppressors in order to achieve social justice. The great oppressor who occupies the “mythical norm,” according to the university’s official glossary, is “male, white, heterosexual, financially stable, young-middle adult, able-bodied, Christian.” Other groups are “minoritized,” or condemned by the “systemic and structural realities in place that push people and communities to the margins.”
Following the George Floyd riots, the university’s administrators and faculty renewed their dedication to the DEI narrative. Ann Gleig, an associate professor of religion and cultural studies, instructed whites on campus to begin “waking up to whiteness and white privilege,” encouraging them to “educate [themselves] on systemic racism and white supremacy,” “participate in anti-racist training programs,” and “commit to having difficult conversations with white family and friends about systemic racism.” She also directed students to a set of resources, including one that encouraged whites to attend racially segregated “affinity groups” to develop their white racial consciousness and “unravel their feelings and ways of understanding without hurting people of color.”
At the same time, S. Kent Butler, a black professor of counselor education then serving as UCF’s chief diversity officer, pushed the argument that minorities live in a state of constant fear and exhaustion. “Leaving the house is an action that may seem ordinary for some, but for individuals who deal with regular hatred and judgment . . . we live with anxiety and fear about walking into unwelcoming spaces,” he said. The responsibility for reforming society, he explained in another interview, belongs to whites. “Racism comes from slavery, from when they used to have [Black] people swinging from trees,” he said. “White people have to come to the forefront and stop the systemic system that’s been put into play by white people.”
How do DEI bureaucracies recommend solving these problems? Through active racial discrimination, or, to use their euphemism, a policy of “racial equity.” The University of Central Florida has embedded such discriminatory practices in its programs, including faculty hiring, student activities, and scholarship opportunities.
Regarding faculty hiring, UCF has adopted the position that merit is a “myth” that advances racism and must be corrected through active discrimination on behalf of “minoritized groups.” In its official guidebook, “Inclusive Faculty Hiring,” the university recommends tilting the hiring process toward minorities by minimizing objective measures—dismissed as “problematic heuristics”—and peppering job announcements with left-wing buzzwords such as “racial equity,” “social justice,” “anti-racist,” and “mention of specific group identities,” with the exception of those of whites.
To reinforce this ideology, administrators also recommend that departments require potential faculty to submit an “Equity and Inclusion Statement,” which serves as a loyalty oath to left-wing ideology. At the end of the process, the university endorses explicit racial quotas. “University policy indicates that a successful search will result in a diverse pool of candidates for the final interview round that [includes at least one woman and one member of a minoritized group],” the guidebook reads (brackets in the original). “If at the time final candidates are identified and the specified parameters are not met, the search should either be restarted or the existing candidate pool should be revisited with more equitable strategies in mind.”
Students, too, must navigate a racial filter. The university has held minority-only graduation ceremonies, and its counseling center offers racially segregated “affinity groups” and psychological programs, such as “Exploring Vulnerability in POC Spaces,” restricted to “Black-identified, Afro-Latinx and students from African-descent,” as well as other racial-conditioning groups delineated for “Asian-identified students” and “Hispanic/Latinx students.”
UCF also advertises racially discriminatory and racially segregated scholarships that intentionally exclude European-Americans and sometimes Asian-Americans. The Professional Doctoral Diversity Fellowship, Harris Diversity Initiative Scholarship, and NSF/Florida Georgia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation in Engineering & Science and National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering scholarships, for example, promise to discriminate on behalf of “underrepresented populations,” a euphemism for “African American, Hispanic, or Native American” students. Others, such as the Minority Teachers Scholarship, are explicitly segregated by race. Candidates “must be a member of one of the following racial groups: African American/Black, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian American/Pacific Islander, or Hispanic/Latino.” In other words, anyone but whites.
All these racially discriminatory scholarship programs violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. But university administrators have been silently embedding “racial equity” principles into every academic process. They operate with impunity because, until recently, no one has attempted to stop them.
This could change. Along with my Manhattan Institute colleague Ilya Shapiro, I have proposed a model policy that would outlaw these practices and abolish the DEI bureaucracy. Florida governor Ron DeSantis has promised to address the problem in the coming legislative session. It seems that Florida lawmakers have seen the DEI scam for what it is: an attempt to push left-wing racialist ideology in the guise of academic justice. As they prepare for action, state legislators should consider a maximalist position: demolishing the DEI bureaucracy down to its foundations and restoring the principle of colorblind equality to the Sunshine State’s public institutions.