UCF's English Department suspends anti-racism statement following the passage of Stop WOKE Act in Florida

The department appended and then removed a disclaimer to the statement

University of Central Florida's English department has suspended a statement committing the department to anti-racist action following the passage of Florida's "Stop WOKE" Act.

In 2021, UCF's Department of English enacted an anti-racism statement in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. They committed to ensuring that BLM wasn't just a moment but a movement to support all minorities.

"We are tasked with developing the next generation of writers, thinkers, and citizens who will carry out this message until there is no longer a need to remind others that Black Lives Matter," UCF's English Department said in the statement.

Ensuring that writers of color are represented, supporting students of color, and creating opportunities for them were some of the initiatives of the Anti-Racism statement.

The retraction comes after Florida's "Stop WOKE Act" took effect on Friday. The new law restricts how certain race-related concepts are taught in public schools and workplace training. The legislation prohibits school districts, colleges, and universities from discussing many concepts, all nebulously floating around a right-wing understanding of "critical race theory."

The legislation bars businesses and schools from teaching that any group is "inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,” that being born in a certain group carries privileges and bars these institutions from inflicting guilt or psychological distress on people. 

ACLU Interim Director Amy Turkel said the law infringes "on teachers’ and employers’ First Amendment rights and chill their ability to use concepts like systemic racism and gender discrimination to teach about and discuss important American history.”

One such example can be seen in UCF's English retraction. The department added a bolded disclaimer to the top of the statement saying "As of July 1, 2022, the statement is suspended as it violates Florida law." After the statement began to circulate with the disclaimer, the disclaimer was removed.

UCF said that they had no part in the department's decision.

"The department took this action, which was not required by the law, without any direction from the university. Florida’s new law speaks to classrooms and training, and we are confident in our faculty’s ability to objectively engage students in robust, scholarly discussions; expand their knowledge; and empower them to freely express their views and form their own conclusions. Freedom of speech, civil discourse and academic freedom are at the core of our values," they shared.

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