USF Students protest DeSantis’ attacks on DEI in Florida colleges

Students for a Democratic Society at University of South Florida protesting at the Marshall Student Center. By Josh Holton/WMNF (4/6/2023)

Today at the University of South Florida about a dozen students with Students for a Democratic Society protested a law to ban majors and minors in gender studies, Critical Race Theory, and related studies that focus on teaching Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

“¡Diversidad, Sí; DeSantis, no! HB 999 has got to go!

¡Diversidad, Sí; DeSantis, no! HB 999 has got to go!”

That means “Diversity, yes, DeSantis, no”

Last month four protesters were arrested while demonstrating against the same legislation, House Bill 999. A fifth student Lauren Pineiro majors in Sociology and minors in Women’s and Gender Studies, and was retroactively charged on Tuesday with two misdemeanors and a felony, like the so-called Tampa 4, according to SDS. Victoria Hinckley is a junior also focusing on sociology and gender studies at USF.

“Yeah! I mean, I think that’s like exactly what HB 999 is aiming to do, you know. It’s aiming to, like, silence people who one: standing up to DeSantis’ attacks on diversity, but also talking about diversity in general; and that’s what we were there doing, and as we were…as you can see in, like, the videos, and just, like, witness accounts of what happened, we were actively silenced.”

Hinckley suggested the arrests may have been intended as a deterrent, but she said that instead, they have emboldened their efforts.

“I mean, I think, at least, like in SDS it’s kind of fueled our flame to like keep speaking out against attacks on diversity because that’s what we were protesting in the first place was cuts to diversity; and now it’s just this added level of political oppression. So it’s definitely emboldened people in SDS. But as far as other students on campus, I think for people that have seen, like, the videos that were, kind or, you know, circulated, I think they were you know really disgusted that like their own campus police were doing this to students that go to school here, it’s like such a disgusting thing to see that happen on your own campus.


House Bill 999 and the Senate version are both working their way through the legislature.

SDS will be holding a statewide rally on April 17th to show solidarity with other Florida colleges and universities experiencing similar concerns. That marks the 58th anniversary of the March on Washington to End the War in Vietnam, which was also organized in part by SDS.

Video of today’s demonstration, by Craig Birchfield/WMNF (4/6/2023)

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