Notes on governance reform

Mark Bauerlien:

On Tuesday, we trustees of the New College of Florida removed the college’s leadership, recommended a figure close to the governor as the next president, and called for a comprehensive review of diversity, equity, and inclusion activities on campus. I believe the latter should be scrapped, particularly in areas of personnel (New College faculty job openings contain a diversity statement that applicants must complete, a kind of loyalty oath to progressive doctrine), and I expect the Florida legislature will act to ban them in the coming months.

The votes we took weren’t very close, and the message is clear that the board intends sweeping change. New College is tiny, with only 700 students, but more than 30 media outlets attended the meeting, and the implications of the vote are reverberating widely. Our actions sound to many like a top-down, hostile takeover, a hasty imposition of political control over what should remain an independent body run by locals.

Leftists think it’s straight-out tyranny flowing from Tallahassee, but they aren’t the only ones concerned. South Carolina philosophy professor Jennifer Frey, a liberal conservative, issued a warning in a tweet: “I guess some people think Florida will be in Republican hands forever. I’m gonna go out on a limb and question that. People who cheer on state control of universities might be singing a different tune when power switches hands unexpectedly.”

It’s a good point. What if leftists were to take over the universities, purge conservatives, and use the institutions to promote their ideology? In a follow-up tweet, Frey proposed a better way: “A different model is not one of ‘vanquishing’ anyone, but dialogue, accountability, and transparency. You can guess which model I prefer.”