Florida special status to persecuted students risks bias

It’s unclear whether the order would cover international students enduring similar circumstances, but the language seems suggestive of that. | Via FIU Flickr

PantherNOW Editorial Board

On Jan. 10 Governor Ron Desantis, in response to rising anti-semitism on college campuses, signed an executive order instructing Florida’s public school system to ease certain restrictions for students facing persecution in other states of the Union.

It’s unclear whether the order would cover international students enduring similar circumstances, but the language seems suggestive of that. 

The reaches of anti-semitism on college campuses have become undeniably disgraceful. This deepens when one considers that these young college students could have used their time in better ways.

Instead, their actions have left their fellow classmates deeply concerned for their safety rather than giving their undivided attention to their education. 

Chief executives have been known to give special status to all kinds of groups in the past – Desantis is merely extending the tradition. 

But the act itself would have been commendable in every sense of the word, had the governor not decidedly made Florida the opposite of safe haven for marginalized groups.

To wit, he butchered Black History in Florida, he passed a law restricting vital care to transgender individuals, he disregarded the importance of diversity by cutting DEI funding, he slapped the immigrant community with a law that dismissed their immense contribution to the state

He also signed a six-week abortion ban which will technically appropriate the bodies of millions of women and to top it off he has caused an alarming brain drain in the state by launching a dubious war against higher education. These accomplishments sure are an earful!

In PantherNOW we caution our fellow students not to fall for this ploy. It’s a veneer that furthers the governor’s ends while publicly proclaiming to be a helping hand for persecuted students. 

Furthermore, there also exists the question of whether this executive order would cover non-Jewish students. Its language is certainly inviting interpretation that would include other students who may have faced similar circumstances on US college campuses. 

However, the recent hiring freeze casts doubt on whether citizens from “countries of concerns” who may have equal shelter in Florida – a Syrian national seeking religious asylum would find the current policies for academia somewhat bipolar. Would all students seeking religious protection really be served by this law, or is it biased? 

And as a kick in the eye, we’d go as far as to say this looks suspiciously like affirmative action – not something DeSantis is a major proponent of. Easing restrictions to accommodate the pains of some people when applying for college indicates nothing else but that.  

During DeSantis’ tenure, Tallahassee no longer pretends to represent the whole state. It will make some lives miserable but would create golden parachutes for those it prefers. 

This executive order fits marvelously with the image the governor and his clique have been meaning to project. It’s the image of a state whose favorites are decided by religious zealots. The favorites are elevated to a pinnacle while the others are trampled with every given opportunity. 

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