Campus Pride index of LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities removes New College of Florida

New College of Florida. Photo from Facebook

According to Campus Pride, after “dramatic and contentious administrative changes at New College of Florida prompted Campus Pride to remove New College of Florida from its Campus Pride Index (CPI), which rates colleges and universities on a range of LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs and practices.” 

Last year, New College of Florida had earned a rating of three out five stars on the CPI, yet this year the campus was taken over at the behest of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on his mission to eliminate diversity, equity, and inclusion at state universities. 

On Jan. 31, a board stacked with six new members appointed by DeSantis just weeks earlier voted to remove then sitting college president Dr. Patricia Okker, who was a former dean and English professor. Okker described the administrative changes as a “hostile takeover.”  At this time, the New College Board of Trustees selected Richard Corcoran as the interim president. Corcoran is a former state education commissioner and Republican speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. 

Until a representative of New College of Florida completes a new self-evaluation that reflects the current status of its LGBTQ-friendly policies and programs, the college will continue to be delisted from the CPI. According to Campus Pride, a new self-evaluation can be submitted at any time, and that the CPI is “an overall indicator of institutional commitment to LGBTQ-inclusive policy, program, and practice. 

Campus Pride Founder, CEO and Executive Director Shane Mendez Windmeyer explained why they felt the need to remove New College of Florida from CPI.

“The Campus Pride Index is the most reliable resource for LGBTQ+ inclusion within higher education. We cannot allow information that is no longer accurate, or highly credible based on these controversial changes to the campus administration, to be part of our trusted resource. This ‘hostile takeover,’ as it has been characterized, brings into question the current 3 star rating. In addition, these egregious actions by Governor Ron DeSantis concerning Florida’s colleges and universities – and particularly New College of Florida – represent attempts to stifle free thought and reverse years of progress to recognize the rights, history and contributions of LGBTQ+ people. These actions raise grave concerns about the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ students at New College.”

“The campus [New College] has been a safe haven for LGBTQ+ students in Florida and still currently has young adults who are worried for their safety and future on campus.” Windmeyer added. 

In the meantime, DeSantis has also backed Florida HB 999, which would ban college spending on diversity, equity, and inclusion, give control over curriculum to appointed boards of trustees, and eliminate majors in Critical Race Theory, Gender Studies, and Intersectionality.