Shared governance is dead in Florida
DeSantis' spokesman declares his boss the supreme leader of all knowledge
On Wednesday, in a very high-profile meeting, the board of the New College of Florida, which was recently overhauled by Governor (and flagging putative presidential candidate) Ron DeSantis, rejected all of the tenure cases that came to it for approval. Several of these were scientists, including two organic chemists. I shared some snark about this that also called out the transphobia raging in Ron’s world. Most of my followers are scientists and many are chemists.
This elicited commentary from my new pen pal, Jeremy Redfern, who is DeSantis’ Deputy Press Secretary. Apparently, he doesn’t like my comedy.
(After he QT’d this to Ron world, I had to turn off the replies because of vile, transphobic garbage that his promotion elicited.)
The culture wars going on in higher education tend to revolve around a gross misunderstanding of shared governance. It’s common to hear trustees use “shared governance” as a rationale for micromanagement and for substituting their judgment for people on campuses who actually know what they’re doing. This is a completely backwards understanding of what shared governance is. The people with more power are supposed to do more of the sharing, not the other way around. The people with less power on the org chart have less power to share. So, I spelled this out and got a truly revealing love letter from my pal, Jeremy.
Apparently, Dear Leader is making all of the decisions for higher education in FL. Good to know. I thanked Jeremy for his transparency — he said out loud something we all knew they were thinking — and his reply even invoked the word “supreme” (which, in fairness, was apparently taken from the FL constitution).
I’m sure Jeremy’s constitutional analysis is correct. He seems to be very worried that I’m arguing about the Constitution of FL. I’m not. I don’t doubt that Ron has the power to do what he is doing. But I’ve been trying without success to get the press office at the University of Florida to acknowledge that this is the world they are living in for many of the pieces I have written about FL — like this, this, this, and this. All I get is no comment. I understand why: if they say, “yes, this is what the Governor is doing to us and we don’t like it,” then they’re in hot water with the Governor. If they say, “no, this isn’t really happening,” no one will believe them.
So, I asked UF if they had a comment on the fact that DeSantis’ office is now saying that he holds 100% of the power in the university. Are they planning to wind down their faculty senate and their student government, which have now been rendered meaningless? Do they really need a President and an administration? As always, no comment. I shouldn’t feel bad: they won’t even make the new President available to his own student newspaper.
As Daniel Chomsky pointed out, what’s really unnerving about this is that the New York Times and other outlets keep wringing their hands about a few students expressing themselves at a speech by a controversial speaker, while whole states are completely shutting down academic freedom with hardly any comment.
At least now we know how much power DeSantis thinks he has over the public universities in Florida.
What do we think the odds are that DeSantis and his brownshirts think organic chemistry is like organic farming and therefore too "woke" for Florida?
It is utterly chilling that DeSantis evidently believes, and his cronies in the Florida legislature and courts support, that he has absolute power over the state of Florida.