Three more departments at the University of Central Florida have lost anti-racism statements from their websites, after the English department “suspended” its statement last week, as previously reported by theGrio.
The English department noted that its decision came independent of the leadership of the university, but after its move drew media attention, UCF decided to act and removed similar statements from the web pages of other departments, including anthropology, philosophy and physics, per the Orlando Sentinel.
UCF spokesman Chad Binette said the school decided to remove the statements because they “could be seen as potentially inconsistent with our commitment to creating a welcoming environment,” which he described as “one where faculty objectively engage students in robust, scholarly discussions that expand their knowledge and empower them to freely express their views and form their own perspectives.”
Writing in an email, Binette continued, per the Sentinel, that “UCF is committed to building a culture that values respect, civil discourse, and creating a sense of belonging. In an effort to more clearly communicate that commitment, we will be working with departments to ensure statements better align with our university values.”
The actions are prompting concerns that the removal of the statements is an indication that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Stop WOKE Act is leading to censorship at the university level.
The Stop WOKE Act was a key piece of legislation from DeSantis banning the instruction of critical race theory in Florida’s K-12 schools, colleges and universities. The teachings, which typically are explored in law or graduate schools, maintain that racism is systemic and ingrained in many U.S. institutions. Opponents of DeSantis’ ban say some conservatives have used “critical race theory” (CRT) as a catch-all term for any American history that makes white people uncomfortable.
UCF philosophy professor Ann Gleig expressed her concern on Twitter on Wednesday, “My & other departmental anti-racist statements at UCF have been take down. Received this email of explanation: ‘anti-racism statement webpages were temporarily being removed and that specific guidance on editing was forthcoming.’”
The Sentinel notes that Gleig added, “Now would be a great time for all those free speech warriors who made pleas for why it was important to have white nationalists like Richard Spencer speak at university campuses to write with equal zeal about the censorship of actual faculty at those university campuses.”
The language that the departments used was varied. For example, the statement from the UCF anthropology department read, “We acknowledge that many of us are born with unearned privilege, while others are denied basic human rights. We decry this history, commit ourselves to rectifying it, and stand with those working to build an antiracist future for our nation.” It has since been removed.
State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat and UCF graduate, issued a warning on social media, writing that Stop WOKE has “created a toxic culture of censorship and fear around how public universities could promote diversity and inclusion.”
“That fear of retribution and state defunding now has … my alma mater, pulling anti-racism statements that may upset the regime,” he continued.
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