Alexandra Howard | Contributing Writer
Ron DeSantis is poisoning education in our state and affecting FIU in the process.
The Florida governor prohibited students from reading books encouraging inclusivity and learning racial history in the classroom when he signed HB 7 into action. Now, he might pry away one of the main resources that FIU students have to succeed: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Our university will strongly feel this effect. No matter how hard I try to build my career at FIU, it will be destroyed right in front of my eyes by a governor that is supposed to support students. Instead of watching from the sidelines and waiting for students to suffer, calling out Florida’s incompetent leader is the least President Jessell can do.
DEI is a fundamental aspect at FIU that supports students and faculty of all ages, racial and ethnic backgrounds, gender identities and expressions and religious beliefs. The legislation will eliminate all DEI funding by the state, and FIU students are not taking this lightly.
“This new legislation to ban and eliminate DEI will set society and the progression of human rights back decades,” said Kaily LaChapelle, President of Pride Student Union. “This will set a precedent in Florida that not only the rest of the nation will be watching, but the entire international community.”
FIU publicizes itself as an institution with open arms towards all students. So, if students do not have the opportunity to freely express themselves and feel accepted by this university, it’s possible they’ll lose motivation to pursue their degree and establish a career for themselves. FIU will slowly, but surely, fall to pieces if something is not done to prevent this.
Our student body is largely made up of underrepresented minority groups and international students. With DEI’s creation in 2020, it has helped fund over 40 scholarships and fellowships for students of marginalized groups, and trained over 480 individuals on DEI subjects to further assist FIU’s melting pot.
“I think that the DEI programs placed at FIU have put me in positions and opportunities that I probably would not have been in. It makes sure that people with my skin color are having a seat at the table,” said Stacey Bazile, a student majoring in public policy and services.
Preserving diversity amongst FIU’s professors and faculty is equally important as well. DEI pushes for the initiative to hire a diverse faculty that brings different life experiences and perspectives for students to learn from.
Seeing representation among faculty boosts the possibility for minority student success and the chance for students to reach out for guidance.
DEI funding can also support student organizations led by Black, Indigenous, persons of color, immigrants, LGBTQ+, and other minority groups.
“As Vice President of the Immigrant Scholars Organization, I have used ISO as a way to help those who need it, so these organizations and diversity programs truly help,” said David Lainez, a junior studying political science.“I really hope that this legislation does not jeopardize the club I have worked so hard for.”
More student organizations are coming together to fuel their anger into action. Pride Student Union, Young Democratic Socialists of America, oSTEM, Graduate Wages and Rights, and Generation Action are organizing a protest on February 23rd 11am to 3pm at Graham Center Lawns.
Possible elimination of DEI funding also poses a question that FIU students are wondering; Why has President Jessell not commented?
To keep the safehaven of inclusion that FIU claims, students are working hard to advocate for themselves and their rights. Advocacy is needed from the university’s top level to let students know they are being heard and seen, and Jessell must stand up to DeSantis.
“Jessell needs to put out a statement. If this university wants to advance as the fastest rising public university in the nation, we have to adapt. The bottom up is already working. The top needs to start,” said Mia Rodriguez, SGA Senator.
The heart of FIU are its students and faculty, so DEI funding is necessary to sustain our university.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.