The University of Florida’s Center for Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement may be next on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “chomping” block for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at the home of the Gators.

UF’s Center for Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement, or CIME, “celebrates and empowers diverse communities and advocates for an inclusive campus for all students across identities,” according to its website.

The center’s programming, it says, includes support for campus DEI efforts and presentations to campus partners on related topics.

The Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida is reviewing whether the inclusion center violates the state’s new law barring public colleges and universities from spending taxpayer dollars on DEI programs, Communications Director Cassandra Edwards told The Daily Signal in an emailed statement. 

DeSantis, a Republican, signed the legislation last May.

Programs in state schools found to violate the law will be “eliminated,” Edwards said in the email Friday afternoon. 

“As this is an ongoing, deliberate process, it will not conclude overnight,” she said. “But rest assured, thanks to Gov. DeSantis’ leadership, state or federal funds will not be used for DEI by Florida’s universities.” 

The law prohibits colleges and universities from using state or federal funding for programs or activities that “advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion, or promote or engage in political or social activism.”

Passage of the legislation launched the DeSantis administration’s gradual trek to overhaul DEI initiatives that became deeply ingrained in the affairs of Florida’s 12 public colleges and universities.

“The board has and will continue to proactively and methodically work with universities to ensure consistent implementation and compliance with state law and board regulation,” Edwards said of the State University System of Florida’s leadership. 

Although the University of Florida, located in Gainesville, closed an office for a chief diversity officer and eliminated other DEI positions in March, the future of its Center for Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement has yet to be decided.  

The University of Florida did not respond to The Daily Signal’s question about whether it will continue funding the center. 

The center received more than $400,000 in the 2022-2023 operating budget, 85% of which was state-funded, according to University of Florida data. The center includes three administrative faculty and five “student engagement” officers.

Listed programs include offices for engagement with black, Hispanic, Asian, and LGBTQ students. 

In early March, sophomore Rebecca Rollins told the Independent Alligator, the student newspaper at the University of Florida, that she thinks the UF Board of Trustees’ appointment of former Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., as UF president in late 2022 was connected to the governor’s plans to root out DEI. Sasse was a search committee’s only recommended candidate. 

Rollins, 20, said “homophobia” and “transphobia” have been “in the air” at UF. 

The inclusion center’s Office of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer+ Student Engagement offers a “gender inclusive housing option for LGBTQ+ students” called the Lavender Living Learning Community.

Students in that “community” may take a corresponding course called “Be a Social Justice Advocate,” according to the website. 

Florida’s other public universities have taken different approaches to the law forbidding diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, which took effect in January. 

Instead of firing DEI personnel as UF did earlier, Florida State University changed the titles and classifications of employees who were in related positions. It’s not clear how much their duties changed.

DeSantis has said he will end woke education in Florida as governor.  

“DEI is toxic and has no place in our public universities,” DeSantis wrote on X after the University of Florida’s March 1 memo announcing the shutdown of related programs. “I’m glad that Florida was the first state to eliminate DEI and I hope more states follow suit.”