‘Stop WOKE Act’ puts pressure on Florida universities to cut critical race theory from curriculum

ORLANDO, Fla. — The governor’s office is putting pressure on universities across the state as part of support for the Stop WOKE Act.

“WOKE” in the bill stands for “wrongs to our kids and employees.”


Gov. Ron DeSantis sent a letter this week requiring all state university and college systems to report expenditures and resources utilized for campus activities related to diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as critical race theory.

“We will not surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die,” DeSantis said during his recent inauguration.

But while hundreds cheered in support during the governor’s inauguration Monday,  in Central Florida, university professors are not feeling the same way.

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“A lot of the proponents say they want to help develop critical thinking skills and not indoctrinate them, but they’re really doing the exact opposite,” UCF associate professor Jonathon Cox said.

Cox teaches classes on racial inequality, but he stopped teaching those classes in the fall because of the act. It was a decision he didn’t take lightly but one he felt forced to make.

“I’m not indoctrinating students,” he said.

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A judge did block the stop woke act from restricting race-related curriculum and conversation in classes, but it’s still being battled out in appeals court.

In the meantime, Cox worries for the impact on students.

“What kind of experiences are we creating for them and what might be lacking when this may be the first time they can engage in something they’re not used to?” Cox said.

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Channel 9 reached out to the governor’s office for further comment on the memo, but all they said is “stay tuned.”

The state university system confirmed all 12 state schools received the memo. The deadline is next Friday.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.