Why even in Red states with Republican governing bodies is the worst Marxist and racial monoculture allowed to “fester and metastasize?” There seemingly has been little or no opposition. Adding to this malfeasance, wokism often comes with taxpayer funding.
Fortunately, there is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, writes the Manhattan Contrarian.
On January 6, DeSantis announced the appointment of six new trustees to the board of a unit of the Florida state university system called New College of Florida. New College, located in Sarasota, is supposed to be a “top-ranked public liberal arts college” and the “Honors College” of the Florida state university system, with special programs for the very best students.
But in recent years it has become, in the words of the Tampa Bay Times, “one of the most progressive higher-education institutions in the state” — in other words, it has been taken over by the extreme progressive Left.
Non-progressives may be looking for a swift reversal, but as Francis Menton warns, not so fast. The new trustees will face “unified and vitriolic opposition from the existing faculty and students.” With most of the faculty tenured and unable to be fired, certainly not for political beliefs or speech, won’t the new trustees get stymied and, in short order, be forced to back down?
There are steps, offers Mr. Menton, that can be taken to turn things around faster than expected. First, he profiles the six trustees and the governance at New College.
The Board has 13 members. DeSantis has just appointed six, which is one short of a majority. Four of the six — Christopher Rufo, Matthew Spalding, Charles Kessler, and Mark Bauerlein — can fairly be described as conservative activists in the education space on the national stage.
The other two (Debra Jenks and Jason Speir) are based in Florida and don’t have national reputations, but undoubtedly are well-known to and vetted by DeSantis and his people.
All six, according to the Tampa Bay Times, were selected by DeSantis as part of his effort to fight what he calls “philosophical lunacy” in Florida universities.
Below are Mr. Menton’s suggestions for the six new appointees, assuming they now have a working majority of the New College board:
- Replace the President. The current President, Patricia Okker, is a specialist in women’s and minority literature. That can’t be good.
- Fire the entire “diversity, equity and inclusion” staff. As with essentially all universities and colleges today, the website makes clear that DEI is currently a major focus of the institution. These DEI people are toxic. And they don’t have tenure. In addition, firing them will free up substantial budget funds, some of which will be needed for other initiatives. While you’re at it, fire all the other non-tenured sub-deans and vice-deans and associate deans who dabble in progressive orthodoxy enforcement in any respect.
- Replace the “diversity, equity and inclusion” bureaucracy with one person of a known conservative bent and a title something like “Dean of Students.”
- Promptly institute a clear and definitive “free speech” policy that defines freedom of speech as a core value of the community, even if the speech is found unpleasant or even “hateful” by some. State clearly that disruption of invited speakers is not permitted, and outline exactly what the punishment will be for violation.
- Then start a college-sponsored speakers program featuring prominent speakers of national reputation, from both left and right. By all means, invite a fair representation of speakers from the left. But from the right, be sure to invite some of the people who are serious and rational but have been known to provoke protests, some violent, from the Left. People like Heather Mac Donald, or Charles Murray, or Abigail Shrier, or Ryan Anderson.
- When a “controversial” speaker from the right comes, do not allow threats of protest to force cancelation under any circumstances. Instead, hire overwhelming security for the event. You will have plenty of money as a result of firing the DEI bureaucracy. There should be only one rule on attending the events — no masks. Other than that, you want the protesters to come, and you want them to protest. When they protest and disrupt the event, you film them, make sure to get clear identification, and have them arrested promptly and escorted out. Under all circumstances, the event proceeds. Do not back down on this.
- Impose swift and sure punishment on the disrupters. I suggest, for the first offense, suspension for the semester with a grade of F for all courses in progress. If the offender comes back after that, the second offense should earn a permanent suspension. And how about permanent disqualification from in-state tuition discounts for Florida residents at the entire university system? (That one may take legislative authorization.)
- Institute one required course for all students, with a name something like “Current Issues In American Politics.” The class will meet once per week to discuss a hot button issue in the current political debate — climate change one week, transgenderism the next, urban crime the next, and so forth. The class should feature speakers to fairly represent both the conservative and liberal position on each subject, brought in from outside if necessary.
- If any students claim they are offended or “harmed” by having to sit through a course like this, they should be called in for a chat with the Dean of Students, where it will be politely suggested that “this school may not be right for you.” If any students protest or disrupt the class, they should be treated the same as protesters at the speakers program. Again, security should be overwhelming and clearly sufficient to clear any protesters promptly so that the class can proceed.
- The tenured faculty should not be fired except perhaps in the most extreme cases. Tenure is actually important to protecting voices on the right at many universities, and the new trustees should be careful not to impose rules that they would not support if the shoe were on the other foot. However, radical tenured faculty do not need to be offered additional perks like plum committee assignments, or a prominent role in admissions. There is no reason why Marxism cannot be met with scorn and derision.
The Manhattan Contrarian’s best advice to the new trustees?
Don’t back down.
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