Teachers, researchers, and practitioners in the humanities and social sciences around the US are deeply troubled by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s appointment of six new trustees to the New College of Florida. These new trustees are ideologically motivated and their only apparent interest in the institution is political. The brazen aspiration of transforming a nationally ranked public honors college into a college along the lines of the private evangelical Christian Hillsdale College is especially alarming and appears to be nothing more than an orchestrated attack on academic integrity.
Opened in 1960, New College soon became recognized as an institution promoting critical inquiry, and a top-notch liberal arts education. It was the first Florida college or university to establish an open admissions policy, and its revolutionary academic program remains a magnet for top high-school grads.
The new trustees aim to fix something that is not the least bit broken. Christopher Rufo, one of the appointees, said the group will seek to a create a new core curriculum, “abolish ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’ and replace it with ‘equality, merit, and colorblindness.’” The board of trustees has a responsibility to preserve and protect the institution’s reputation by helping support and protect its mission, not tear it down in the name of an ideological flavor of the month platform that barely conceals political ambition.
Our enduring commitment is to the principles of academic freedom, which are essential for researchers, teachers, and students to advance the purpose of institutions of higher education, including the New College of Florida, in serving the common good. We are concerned that the addition of these newly appointed trustees is a potential threat to the College’s academic integrity, and its faculty’s freedom of academic inquiry and expression.
On behalf of the American Anthropological Association and the organizations listed below, we call for a halt to this repressive, alarming ideological agenda and urge in the strongest possible terms for the overall Board of Trustees to continue to preserve, protect, and promote the pursuit of knowledge and the free exchange of ideas.
American Historical Association
American Political Science Association
Dance Studies Association
Organization of American Historians
Rhetoric Society of America