CV NEWS FEED // The board of a Florida liberal arts college voted by an overwhelming margin to nix its 28-year-old gender studies program.
The New College of Florida is the only public liberal arts college in the state. It is located in Sarasota, FL, a picturesque city on the state’s Gulf Coast located one hour south of Tampa. The college was founded in 1960, but its gender studies major came along 35 years later, in 1995.
A school webpage said the program “intersect[ed] with interdisciplinary fields including Cultural, Ethnic, and Africana Studies.”
The move was greenlighted following a decisive 7-3 vote of the school’s Board of Trustees last Thursday. The effort was spearheaded by board member Chris Rufo, a nationally-known advocate for doing away with Critical Race Theory and gender ideology in public schools.
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Rufo to the board of the public college in January. At the time, Rufo said that his “ambition” was to “help the new board majority transform New College into a classical liberal arts institution.”
“We are recapturing higher education,” he added.
Another board member, Matthew Spalding, agreed with Rufo. He told The Daily Signal.
Removal of gender studies as an area of concentration at New College is fully in accord with its strategic mission to be the state of Florida’s liberal arts honors college.
Not only does gender studies fall well outside this focus, but its ideologically driven and tendentious character render it more a movement of cultural politics than an academic discipline. Any substantial topic taken up in gender studies may be found thoroughly treated in the ordinary academic disciplines such as history, psychology, or biology.
Rufo echoed that statement on the day of the vote.
“Ideologues who believe that ‘men can get pregnant’ and ‘women can become men’ should not be running academic departments in public universities,” the award-winning activist said Thursday night.
“It’s not scholarship; it’s left-wing nihilism that is antithetical to human reason and the classical liberal arts tradition.”
The board’s conservative majority, which was engineered by DeSantis and his administration earlier this year, voted to remove the New College’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) department in February.
Manny Diaz, Florida’s Education Commissioner, praised the recent series of moves. “New College of Florida will become Florida’s classical college, more along the lines of a Hillsdale of the south,” Diaz said.
Another notable member of New College’s board is philosopher and public intellectual Ryan T. Anderson, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC).
Anderson, a practicing Catholic, is widely regarded as being one of the country’s foremost experts on marriage and gender. He is the author of several bestselling books including “What is Marriage?” and “When Harry Became Sally.”