Posted on July 21, 2022

Florida University Removes Some Anti-Racism Statements

Susan Svrluga, Washington Post, July 14, 2022

The University of Central Florida removed statements condemning racism from several academic departments’ websites this week, prompting some faculty members to worry that school officials were self-censoring in an effort to maintain compliance with a new state law limiting what can be taught about race and identity.

Shelley Park, a professor of philosophy and cultural studies at UCF, said the statement in her department, posted amid the national reckoning on race in 2020, “stood behind diversity, equity and inclusivity — which didn’t used to be such a radical thing to say.”

Park said her understanding was that the provost had contacted deans and that the pages were temporarily removed, with additional guidance to come when faculty members return in August. {snip}


On Wednesday, some links on department webpages — including those for the anthropology, philosophy and physics departments — appeared to be broken or removed.

The philosophy statement had read, in part, “we acknowledge the key place of the university as a site of struggle for social justice and are committed to addressing the problem of anti-Blackness, white supremacy, and all forms of implicit and explicit racism in our professions, wherever we find it, even if in our own department.”

Michael Armato, a lecturer at UCF, said two messages were removed from the sociology department’s website. One, in support of the Asian community, was later restored, he said.

The other began: “We stand in solidarity with the many people across the world who are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of the lives of Black people at the hands of police and vigilantes in the US. Recent events have once again laid bare the longstanding and pervasive legacy of anti-Blackness at the heart of US white-supremacist culture.”

That statement had not been restored to the website as of Thursday afternoon.

“It’s alarming,” Armato said. {snip}


A June 2020 statement by UCF President Alexander N. Cartwright titled “Our Future Is Inclusion,” emphasizing the university’s commitment to be actively anti-racist, remains accessible.


The “individual freedom” act, which Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) called the “Stop WOKE Act,” went into effect July 1, regulating what schools and workplaces can teach about race and identity.

A UCF professor is a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the act, arguing that it is unconstitutional and threatens academic freedom.

DeSantis has said he wants to prevent what he describes as intellectually repressive environments at public universities, and his administration has pushed changes to higher education that include altering tenure and accreditation.