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UNF Spinnaker

UNF closing Office of Diversity and Inclusion due to anti-DEI regulation

Last Wednesday, the University of North Florida announced its plans to phase out the Office of Diversity and Inclusion after the Florida Board of Governors passed Regulation 9.016 earlier in the day. The regulation bans using state or federal funds on programs and activities that “advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion” or “promote or engage in political or social activism.”

In an email sent to the UNF community Wednesday night, President Moez Limayem stated the ODI will be phased out in accordance with this regulation and the related state law, SB 266. Under the umbrella of the ODI are the Intercultural, Interfaith, LGBTQ and Women’s centers, which will all be closed as well.

Limayem said no staff members will have to leave UNF because of these closures, and they will be assigned to work in other UNF departments while at least maintaining their current salary.

He also ensured student clubs making up the Student Alliance for Inclusion and Diversity can remain active registered student organizations at UNF.

Chants of “Ron DeSantis has got to go” were heard across campus as the protestors marched from the Green to the Student Union. (Jeanne Gilbert)

Students took to the Green to protest at the same time as the BOG meeting on Wednesday. Several members of Students for a Democratic Society spoke against the regulation, Ron DeSantis and the many anti-diversity bills he has signed into law.

“A lot of the rhetoric around it is to protect the students from anything that creates indoctrination, but this is simply erasing our history and invalidating our inherent worth on campus,” said Marlo Crosby, vice president of UNF SDS. “DeSantis doesn’t walk this campus … his interests do not reflect the student body, and they never have.”

Those involved with the ODI have encouraged students to take advantage of student clubs and other resources offered on campus and in the local community in the absence of the ODI.

“It’s very unfortunate that the laws in Florida have forced our closure,” said Manny Velásquez-Paredes, director of the LGBTQ Center. “However, our students should be aware that we still have many different resources available to them on campus, and they can look up the PRIDE Club for more assistance if necessary.”

In 2022, UNF was recognized as one of the best colleges for LGBTQ students in the southeast; two years later, the LGBTQ center will have to close. (Jeanne Gilbert)

“Being the director of the Interfaith Center was my dream job. I got to build on 15+ years of interfaith dialogue and action of staff, faculty and students before me,” said Matt Hartley, former director of the soon-to-be-closed Interfaith Center. “But the good news is, like other areas of diversity, community will continue in new ways.”

Hartley is now the Director of Interfaith Programs at OneJax, a nonprofit promoting diversity in the Jacksonville community, and encouraged students to participate in its events.

It is still unclear how exactly these laws and regulations will impact Florida state colleges and universities, and many members of the UNF community are anticipating what changes will come in the next few months.

This is a developing story, and Spinnaker will publish more information as it becomes available.

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For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Jeanne Gilbert, Editor in Chief
Jeanne Gilbert is Spinnaker's current editor-in-chief and a sophomore majoring in public relations at the University of North Florida. She joined Spinnaker in the summer of 2023 as a volunteer. After graduating, Jeanne plans to continue in the newsroom or work in public relations.

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