If you want to learn more about the University of Central Florida’s stance on racism, you won’t find the information on the website. In fact, the Orlando public research university is taking steps to remove anti-racist statements from its departments’ websites. You’re probably thinking that this is a huge step in the wrong direction for an institution that is supposed to be shaping young minds, and you wouldn’t be wrong. However, it is in line with the “Stop WOKE Act,” a law signed by Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) that limits the way race is discussed in schools and the workplace.
But the website edits are unsettling to some UCF faculty members, including Ann Gleig, a UCF religious studies professor. She says the university’s philosophy department took great care to create their statement on anti-racism in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd. “This is a complete infringement of academic freedom,” she said. “The statement was crafted over a period of time with dialogue and input across a twenty person plus faculty trained in philosophy, religion and cultural studies and the humanities.”
The “Stop WOKE Act”, which was signed into law in April, is part of Governor DeSantis’ half-baked plan to “take on both corporate wokeness and critical race theory.” The new law bans teaching that any group is “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously” or that a person or group “bears personal responsibility for and must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress.” More specifically, it is meant to sanitize the way our country’s history is taught so as not to make white people feel guilty about slavery and other wrongdoings of the past.
But State Rep. Carlos G. Smith (D-FL), who graduated from UCF, is calling BS. The state’s first LGBTQ Latino legislator expressed his disappointment with Governor DeSantis and the university’s recent move on Twitter, writing:
“The DeSantis regime has made the anti-racist mission of my alma mater AGAINST THE LAW. This is a consequence of HB 7 and the Governor’s out-of-control censorship agenda. This is not freedom.”