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FL public universities move to get rid of reports such as race and sex in student enrollment

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FL public universities move to get rid of reports such as race and sex in student enrollment

Sep 14, 2023 | 4:43 pm ET
By Christian Casale
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FL public universities move to get rid of reports such as race and sex in student enrollment
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Florida State University campus. Credit: Diane Rado.

Florida’s public university system is preparing to eliminate reports related to “representation by race and sex in student enrollment, senior-level administrative positions, and faculty rank and tenure status,” records show.

In other changes, a Board of Governors regulation would no longer be called “Equity and Access.” The name would be “Equal Access and Opportunity.”

“Equity” has become a sour term in higher education. In May, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill prohibiting any state college or university from using “state or federal funds to promote, support, or maintain any programs or campus activities” that advocate for “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

And nationwide, the U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down the use of affirmation action in college admissions.

The Board of Governors is scheduled to discuss the changes at their meeting Wednesday.

The proposed regulation would also no longer require Florida’s public universities to submit an annual Equity Report to the Board of Governors, and it eliminates the Florida Equity Report Guidelines review by the Council on Equal Opportunity and Diversity.

Also deleted are stipulations that universities report progress on “implementing strategic initiatives and performance related to equity and access” or assess sex equity in athletics.

A presentation for the proposed changes say it would reduce the reporting burden on institutions. It also says the changes are meant to bring Board of Governors policy in line with recent Florida statutes, such as the Florida Educational Equity Act.

Also deleted are sections that say “Nothing in this regulation prohibits a university from engaging in lawful practices aimed at achieving a broadly diverse student body,” and “nothing in this regulation limits a university’s authority to adopt non-discrimination policies that do not violate applicable law.”

The change would add pregnancy to the list of identifiers forbidden to be discriminated against at Florida institutions, a list that already includes “race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, marital status, veteran status, or any other basis protected by applicable state and federal law against a covered individual.”

Now protected from discrimination are also “university visitors,” who must also be protected from “harassment.”