PBSC and IRSC Face Funding Loss for Diversity Initiatives

Florida Department of Education Bars Use of Taxpayer Funds for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs on State College Campuses

Palm Beach County, Fla. – In a recent announcement, the Florida Department of Education declared that taxpayer funds can no longer be allocated towards promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives on the state’s 28 college campuses, including Palm Beach State College and Indian River State College.

David Wiggins, a representative of the South Palm Beach County branch of the NAACP, expressed his concerns regarding this regulation, stating that it directly undermines American values. He further described the decision as disheartening, especially in the wake of Martin Luther King Day celebrations. Comparing the situation to the words of Rev. Jesse Jackson, Wiggins encouraged people to remain hopeful and fight against this policy, akin to the spirit of Muhammad Ali.

Wiggins also expressed worries that this move might deter companies and other sources of funding from contributing to DEI initiatives. However, he urged them to continue supporting these programs, highlighting the potential legal and public opinion challenges that may arise from opposing diversity. Wiggins emphasized the importance of educating, mobilizing, and voting to counteract efforts that seek to diminish democratic values and identities.

The demographics of Palm Beach State College and Indian River State College reflect the diverse composition of their student bodies. As of fall 2021, Palm Beach State College reported a primarily Hispanic or Latino student population at 32.9%, followed by 28.9% white and 28% Black or African American. Indian River State College, on the other hand, had a predominantly white student body at 65.9%, followed by 17.2% Hispanic or Latino and 11.3% Black or African American as of 2023.

Thomas Kenny, a member of Moms for Liberty, expressed opposition towards DEI programs in general, including their funding. Kenny argued that DEI promotes discrimination and is rooted in Critical Race Theory, perpetuating false beliefs about the United States government favoring white privilege. Notably, Florida’s public universities reported spending at least $34 million on DEI initiatives last year.

The Florida Board of Governors has already introduced similar DEI regulations for institutions within the State University System. Florida Atlantic University, for instance, received over $900,000 in funding for DEI-related programs and resources, with a significant portion being state-funded. Kenny suggested redirecting these funds towards enhancing campus facilities, technology, and classrooms instead.

Efforts to obtain comments from Palm Beach State College and Indian River State College were unsuccessful at the time of this broadcast.

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