Proposed by Rep. Robert Alexander Andrade, HB 999 (SB 266) focuses on postsecondary educational institutions. It aims to revise the education system, from the faculty hiring process to general education courses.
While the bill itself is a threat to Black people, Black fraternities and sororities are concerned that lines 276 to 290 could harm Black greek organizations and hinder their presence on college campuses.
The lines read college “programs or campus activities” that promote discrimination (s. 1000.05(4)(a)), “advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion” (DEI) or “promote or engage in political or social activism” are prohibited from receiving state or federal funds.
The House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Subcommittee held a meeting on March 13, 2023, where Andrade introduced the bill, and meeting attendees voiced their opposition.
Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson also expressed concern about how the bill would impact Black greek organizations.
“I am a member of a sorority,” the Alpha Kappa Alpha member said. “So, more specifically, how does this impact the Divine Nine, Black sororities and fraternities, and their ability to hold social justice events, voters registration events…all the ‘skee wee’ things we do on campus? How will this affect them?”
Andrade responded, “Representative Hixon, it does not. It does not affect them at all.”
While the bill doesn’t specifically mention Black sororities and fraternities, it’s still a concern for Black Greek organizations because they’re known for getting involved in political and racial movements.
These organizations consisted of Black and Brown brothers and sisters standing together to educate and uplift the Black community and serve social causes. White supremacists see these organizations as a threat and create bills like HB 999 to dismantle them.
Rep. Andrade can deny the bill’s calamitous effect on the Divine Nine, but the bill was written vaguely and excluded specific types of organizations. As though, at any moment, Conservatives can throw this bill in Black organizations’ faces if the actions don’t match their racist agenda.
Many Black fraternity and sorority members attended the meeting, given only 30 seconds to voice their opposition. Florida A&M University Omega Psi Phi member Robert Tucker took the podium, urging lawmakers to vote “nay” on the bill.
“The people of color weren’t always able to associate with programs with other ethnicities,” Tucker began. “Therefore, we found a way to impact ourselves, families and many communities through these Greek letter organizations. The National Pan-Hellenic Council was created for people that look like me. That have established unique core values, but all want to educate and uplift communities, minority, specifically from racial inequities.”
He concluded, “If you decide to pass this bill, not only will it affect HBCUs and other state universities in a negative way and the programs that are implemented, but present and future generations to come. Please, do not create a bill that face over 100 years of progression for minorities just because of personal bias.”
Tallahassee Mayor Pro-Tem Dianne Williams-Cox (an AKA) slammed the committee through her speech.
“You all have an agenda that you don’t even know the definition for, so I came to provide the definition,” Williams-Cox said. “Woke…means to be aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues, especially of racial and social justice. Your anti-woke agenda is using a wrong definition.”
She continued, “This is Florida. It will become the place where woke comes to die because no one will be coming here for higher education. We will suffer the economic impact of people not coming to Florida. We are the home of the number one HBCU and other schools in the state of Florida. Realize that as you make your decision.”
The bill prohibits state schools from including DEI statements, “Critical Race Theory (CRT) rhetoric, or other forms of political identity fillers” during the hiring process, whether for employment, promotions, tenures, etc.
Additionally, HB 999 forces state colleges and universities to “remove from its programs any major or minor that is based on or otherwise utilizes pedagogical methodology associated with Critical Race Theory, Critical 82 Race Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies, Radical Feminist Theory, Radical Gender Theory, Queer Theory, Critical Social Justice, or Intersectionality.”
The majority of the members voted in favor of the bill. HB 999 is now in the Education and Employment Committee.
Watch the full meeting here.