New College of Florida’s purge claims top DEI officer: “I am the first casualty”

In three short months, New College of Florida installed six new trustees, ousted its president, abolished its Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence, and is now choosing to remove any trace of Yoleidy Rosario-Hernandez, the school's top DEI officer.

Following New College of Florida’s board of trustees voting to abolish all diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs schoolwide, the DeSantis-backed president has axed its top officer.

In three short months, New College of Florida installed six new trustees, ousted its president, abolished its Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence, and is now removing any trace of Yoleidy Rosario-Hernandez, who uses ze/zir pronouns. The three other officers who worked in the now-defunct DEI program were reassigned.

“I have to think about how am I going to sustain my family after all of this, and that has been very difficult to navigate. Professionally, I am in mourning because I see that the DEI is being attacked, not only at New College,” said Rosario-Hernandez in an interview with The Washington Post. “I am the first casualty in many ways.”

These sweeping changes come at the heels of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ agenda to terminate any remnants of DEI initiatives that serve “as an ideological filter, a political filter,” at Florida’s public universities. Richard Corcoran, New College’s current president, is one of DeSantis’ top allies, recently serving on his Board of Governors. Christopher Rufo, one of DeSantis’ New College Board picks who voted in favor of Corcoran believes Rosario Hernandez’s interpretation of DEI in higher education is nonsense, believing zir “period of unemployment” would give Rosario-Hernandez “the opportunity to develop real work skills, instead of fomenting hysterical racial grievance narratives.” Rufo’s comments are also partly a reaction to Rosario-Hernandez believing his stance against DEI is due to his agenda for “white supremacy.”

As New College’s new leadership continues to groom the school in a more conservative direction, one out-of-state school is lending a hand to students who would like to jump ship. Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., announced last Thursday its offering admission to Florida College students, matching their current cost of tuition and without loss of credits when transferring.

“Increasingly, public institutions are a target for those trying to censor discussions of racism, white supremacy, gender identity, structural barriers to equity, and the reproduction of oppressive hierarchies,” said the school in a statement. “This doesn’t serve the students, it doesn’t serve democracy, and it certainly doesn’t serve the world those students seek to improve.”

This may prove to be a real consideration for students, as many of them – along with alumni and stuff – protested the decision to abolish DEI in droves.

“Regardless of your attempts to suppress our educational freedom we will continue to learn the subjects that you want to ban,” said student Sam Sharf, according to CNN. “We reject the social inequalities that your ideology defends.”

As for Rosario-Hernandez, she issued a dire warning for other schools who face similar targets against DEI offices, such as those in Texas and Oklahoma.

“People should be paying attention to what’s happening at New College of Florida because they could be next. Their institutions can be next, their state can be next,” ze said. “We need to be aware of what’s happening so that we can hold our political appointees accountable for their actions.”

More from UB: The new Red Scare: Faculty is likely to censor speech more than ever

Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel is a UB staff writer and Florida Gator alumnus. A graduate in journalism and communications, his beats have ranged from Gainesville's city development, music scene, and regional little league sports divisions. He has triple citizenship from the U.S., Ecuador, and Brazil.

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