On Aug. 14, NCF Freedom, a nonprofit organization designed to protect and promote the future of the New College of Florida (NCF), filed a federal lawsuit against the State of Florida. The organization claims that certain provisions of Chapter 2023-082 of the Laws of Florida (SB266), are unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth amendments.
On Jan. 6 of this year, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis appointed six new members to NCF’s Board of Trustees. Including DeSantis, all members issued statements of intent to change NCF’s curriculum.
Not even 24 hours later, Sarasota-based supporters of New College created NCF Freedom.
The Start of NCF Freedom
Jono Miller, the president of NCF Freedom and an NCF Alum, said that the bill has had a “chilling effect” on the university.
Faculty expressed fear of losing tenure or being fired. The administration worry about losing state-granted “performance funding.” Lastly, students showed concerns of certain classes discontinuing.
According to Miller, this freeze comes from the broad language of the passed bill.
SB266 outlaws any courses that include “social and political activism” and prohibits any use of state funding that promotes “diversity, inclusion and equity.”
“What counts as activism?” Miller said. “I’d consider registering to vote a kind of activism, I consider voting activism, is that outlawed?”
With the new law’s vague wording, it’s unclear for students and educators how to proceed without breaking it.
Along with the lawsuit, NCF Freedom requested that the court grant an injunction that would put the law on hold until the suit is settled. NCF’s next semester will start soon and this suit could be a lengthy process.
“If NCF is changing, it needs to change in a way that was ethical and constitutional,” Miller said.