After heated dialogue, New College Board of Trustees vote to begin termination of gender studies

New College of Florida SRQ
New College of Florida in Sarasota. By Seán Kinane/WMNF News (Apr. 2023).


New College Board of Trustees voted to begin the termination of the school’s Gender Studies program. The motion passed at a meeting Thursday.

Christopher Rufo, conservative anti-diversity activist and Board of Trustees member, proposed the ban via Zoom.

“There’s great historical precedent for abolishing programs that stray from their scholarly mission, in favor of ideological activism and this happened at the University of California Berkeley when it’s criminology school turned into a kind of activist-oriented program. They abolished it, they canceled it. This happened also at the University of Chicago when their education school was taken by people who shifted it into a very ideological and activist direction. They abolished it. The best universities, when they have programs that do not fit in with the mission, that are not closely honed to the scholarly  intention of the university, make the hard calls to discontinue those programs.”

Amy Reid is a Board of Trustees member, and also the director of gender studies.

“We stand with gender studies. Women’s and gender studies have been central to the American liberal arts for 50 years. Established at New College as a joint disciplinary AOC  in 1995, our Gender Studies program has grown because of the participation and support of faculty in all three divisions. We recognize the value of the GSP for the college’s liberal arts curriculum as a hub of interdisciplinary inquiry for faculty and students and as a significant resource programming for the whole campus community.”

Reid said the motion violated the principles of Sunshine Law.

“My concern is that members of this board were informed ahead of time, individually, that this new business that is not on the agenda was going to be brought forward. I believe that is inappropriate. Personally, I received a phone call at 11 AM Saturday evening from someone telling me of this rumor. I have subsequently been called by reports and I have been contacted by faculty at other institutions in Florida about this. So I do believe there was a consultation in advance of this motion, and I do believe that is a violation of the principles of Sunshine Law”

Grace Keenan, trustee member and New College student, questioned Interim President Richard Corcoran about his stance on the motion. He responded, saying he “believes the substance of their comments.”

The motion passed 7-3.


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