BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) — While speaking at a Bradenton event focused on higher education reform, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continued his criticism of New College of Florida, calling it the worst return on investment for state higher education. He also took questions about proposed policy changes to gender dysphoria treatment in Florida.
While most of the questions focused on the proposed higher education reforms the governor had announced at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, he also weighed in on gender reassignment surgeries, calling it a form of “mutilation.”
Responding to a question on gender dysphoria treatments, DeSantis said there were people who had gone through treatments using puberty blockers and sex changes as minors who now regretted it, and Florida was making sure that those performing the treatments on minors would lose their medical license in Florida.
He also said he’d work with the legislature to make that type of “accountability” a part of Florida’s statutes. DeSantis called it a “cottage industry” for several years, but that young people have “all things that kind of go on, and most of it resolves itself,” but the way to handle it was with counseling, not “hacking off their body parts.”
The education policies announced focused on banning “indoctrination” and returning state higher education to its “Western” roots.
The question and answer session started off focused on the Bradenton event’s reform topics, particularly coming changes to New College of Florida, DeSantis said the college did not have a good return on investment and that there weren’t many “publicly funded liberal arts colleges” and saying that a Forbes ranking said New College was the worst of any Florida university when it came to ROI.
“It is by statute supposed to be the premier honors college in Florida, that’s the mission,” DeSantis said. “Clearly hasn’t met that mission, because our premier students are going to UF or some of our other schools. So I think this is really going to reorient it in a positive way,” and saying that Rufo had gotten interest from prospective faculty to come to Florida now.
“And really a lot of this is aligning the mission with what education should be,” DeSantis continued. “If we were here at almost any other period of our history, no one would really question, it’s really just more recently, in recent decades, that the mission has really veered. I think we have an opportunity to do really really well.”
He asked how many times there had been $15 million “put into the kitty” to recruit faculty immediately and find high-performing professors, rather than starve New College of funding.
“We’ve also said that if there are students who are there who maybe don’t like the direction, they should be able to transfer, maybe students who did an early decision with next academic year, they should be let out of that if they don’t think…” DeSantis said. “There’s way more people who want to apply than those who wish they hadn’t applied.”
In response to a question about question on ideology, DeSantis said there shouldn’t be a litmus test for big companies to “make or break,” be it a news network or others, that give different reasons for doing it.
He said that with “so much other content, that is very lightly viewed,” but companies like NewsMax and One America News were being targeted, potentially warranting federal investigation by Congress. He said they need to ensure there’s not “intellectual discrimination” happening.