University Removes ‘Anti-Racist’ Statements as Florida’s Stop WOKE Act Takes Effect

By Bill Pan
Bill Pan
Bill Pan
Reporter
Bill Pan is a reporter for The Epoch Times.
July 15, 2022 Updated: July 15, 2022

The University of Central Florida (UCF) has taken down statements endorsing “anti-racist” ideology from the websites of several academic departments after the state’s “Stop WOKE Act” came into effect.

The statements were developed and adopted in the wake of the death of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter riots in the summer of 2020. In those statements, the UCF departments pledged to incorporate the Marxist ideology into their teaching and research, and to challenge established structures and canons allegedly influenced or shaped by “systemic racism” and “white supremacy.”

One of such statements removed was from the English department, which declared that “unconscious bias and white fragility are pervasive throughout society” and “also exist among faculty.”

“We have many students of color in our department, but we recognize that we have not systematically made sure they feel welcome. We have work to do,” the department said. “Our discipline of English has been disfigured by an appalling history of complicity in perpetuating colonialist and racist practices and power structures. Our field has for too long upheld a canon of literature that is exclusive, elitist, and blindingly white.”

In another recently removed statement, the anthropology department said it recognizes the role anthropologists played in “supporting early forms of scientific racism” and assisting colonial powers “in their subjugation and elimination of native populations worldwide.”

“We understand that this legacy is part of our culture’s ongoing struggle with difference and has contributed to the reproduction of white supremacy,” adding, “We decry this history, commit ourselves to rectifying it, and stand with those working to build an antiracist future for our nation.”

These statements disappeared from the UCF departments’ websites after July 1, with the English department explicitly saying this was meant to avoid violating the newly-enacted Stop WOKE law.

Signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in April, the law prohibits businesses and schools across Florida from compelling employees and students to believe that they are personally responsible and must feel guilt or shame for past actions of members of their race. It also bans teaching that anyone is “either privileged or oppressed” just because of his or her race.

UCF Assistant Vice President Chad Binette insisted that the statements were taken down because they created a space that could feel “unwelcoming” to some people.

“The university recently removed some departmental statements that could be seen as potentially inconsistent with our commitment to creating a welcoming environment—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,” Binette said. “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 Stop WOKE Act took effect on July 1 as scheduled after surviving a legal challenge. Judge Mark Walker, Chief Judge in the Northern District of Florida, in late June dismissed a request filed by teachers and a student to block the law’s enactment, saying that they failed to prove injury and therefore had no standing to sue.

Bill Pan
Reporter
Bill Pan is a reporter for The Epoch Times.