‘Go to Berkeley’: Ron DeSantis said students seeking ‘woke’ classes should study elsewhere

'We want to focus on the classical mission of what a university is supposed to be.'

If students want to study critical race theory or gender ideology, Gov. Ron DeSantis says they should leave Florida.

“Go to Berkeley. Go to some of these other places. That’s fine,” he said. “If that’s what you want to do, there’s nothing wrong with that, per se. But for us with our tax dollars, we want to focus on the classical mission of what a university is supposed to be.”

The same goes for university accreditors that require diversity efforts at higher education institutions.

DeSantis made the remarks at New College, a public liberal arts university in the midst of an overhaul after trustees appointed by DeSantis forced a change in administration.

Loud student protests unfolded outside of the venue where the Governor spoke. Inside, DeSantis said it may be time for new accreditors to decide what defines a quality education in Florida and around the nation.

“We’re also working with other states to create some new accrediting bodies,” DeSantis said. “People sometimes wonder why it is universities are doing what seems like they’re pursuing more of an agenda than actually trying to just focus on academics. And sometimes that’s just a deliberate choice.

“But sometimes those are choices that are being conditioned based on the accrediting bodies. They’re telling you, ‘You have to do this, or somehow you would lose your accreditation,’ even though it has very little to do with the traditional academic mission. And so we think that monopoly is something that’s outdated, and we think injecting competition into the accreditation regime is absolutely essential.”

DeSantis suggested this alternative the same day he signed a bill largely eliminating diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at public universities.

The moves come as academics worry eliminating diversity programs and course restrictions imposed at Florida schools will threaten the credibility of institutions. Inside Higher Ed just published an editorial by Brian Rosenberg, a former President of Macalester College, questioning if New College specifically should lose its accreditation.

“If Florida has the right to destroy its universities, do those universities have any particular right to be accredited?” he wrote.

He suggested that if New College loses its accreditation, the consequences will be felt by students no longer eligible for federal financial aid and unable to transfer credits to other institutions.

All Florida’s public universities are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. That’s one of seven accrediting commissions nationwide, and primarily works with institutions in the South.

DeSantis said Florida has an opportunity to examine the system and change it.

He also leaned in on policy decisions in recent years to outlaw teaching critical race theory and impose surveys on intellectual diversity.

At his press conference, he made direct appeals to students across the county, noting Florida’s out-of-state tuition is still lower than in-state tuition for schools in states like Michigan and Virginia

“What a great opportunity to get a high quality yet affordable education even for people out of state,” he said. “I think you’re going to see a lot of interest in the application process over the next few years.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Michael K

    May 15, 2023 at 1:14 pm

    Oh dear. Look at the rankings for the University system in California and tell me what you find. Of course, it’s hysterical that the governor – Harvard and Yale grad — says these crazy things. He just wants to keep everybody stupid so he sounds smart.

    • SteveHC

      May 15, 2023 at 1:22 pm

      – Actually, DeSantis in fact assumes that everyone other than he is dumb and so deliberately tries to sound as if he were dumb too (which is why he never mentions his “woke” Yale and Harvard educational background).

  • Dont Say FLA

    May 15, 2023 at 1:15 pm

    Rhonda suggested Donald Trump should move from Florida. Rhonda said he didn’t want a Tesla factory because it would attract educated types. Now Rhonda is saying college students who want to learn should go to University outside of Fleur Duh. If Rhonda become president of USA, will he tell everybody to move to Canada? or Mexico? The man demonstrably cannot work across the aisle with people who think differently from him. Without a supermajority GOP state government, Rhonda would have nowhere beyond where Trump’s endorsement got him: The governor’s desk. But that desk would, like the head of the man sitting at it, would have been void of content.

  • SteveHC

    May 15, 2023 at 1:20 pm

    DeSantis deliberately, conveniently and CONSISTENTLY neglects to mention that he himself graduated from the “woke” universities of Harvard and Yale! Maybe he wants to return his “woke education” diplomas to their registrars’ offices?

    • Dont Say FLA

      May 15, 2023 at 1:27 pm

      Yep, he a grad of liberal Yarvard and Hale. He also worked as a prison guard in Guantanamo Bay where, we all saw the pictures of prison guards bullying and torturing prisoners. Given that history, and given how we see him leveraging his Government Job for bullying drag queens and trans kids, there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t bully and perhaps even torture everyone in USA, given the chance. Lets’ not forget Ron’s new death penalty standard of “8 MAGAs agree on the word of a child.” Seriously? That is a recipe for disaster in Florida the likes of which haven’t been seen since Homestead got wiped off the map.

  • Go To Disneyland

    May 15, 2023 at 1:53 pm

    “Move to California.” “Go to Berkeley.” “Go to Disneyland.” What other gems does Rhonda have to say about the state he governs, and why does he so frequently recommend people avoid it?

  • Kiwini Hapa

    May 15, 2023 at 6:41 pm

    Based on DeSantis’ attack on education in Florida and a typically flippant ignorant comment to go to California to get a woke education, he seeks to drain Florida of intelligent critical independent thinkers. He clearly doesn’t want anyone in Florida to understand and recognize rascim (woke). His dream is that schools end at 6th grade, girls will not be permitted to go to school at all, boys will wear a tan colored shirt (brown to be precise), girls will not be allowed in public unless accompanied by a male and will be covered head to toe in flowing, beautiful black body covers (like a hijab). Good luck Florida.

  • woke

    May 16, 2023 at 9:27 am

    Please someone gag Rona with cotton candy and send him to China

  • WGD

    May 16, 2023 at 12:20 pm

    Yes students seeking a quality education, who don’t want to be indoctrinated with right wing christian nationalist misinformation should definitely go elsewhere.

Comments are closed.


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