JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Black Greek-lettered organizations in Florida colleges are worried they will be banned. They're pointing to a specific bill that has been making moves in the Florida House. Students say House Bill 999 would eliminate African American fraternities and sororities. A post on social media has been making rounds. It reads Black, LatinX and Multi-Cultural fraternities and sororities would be eliminated from college campuses. However, the bill itself does not necessarily say it would.
House Bill 999 was introduced by Republican Rep. Alex Andrade of Pensacola. In the original writing of the bill, line 341, universities and colleges would not be able to use funds that "Promote, support, or maintain any programs or campus activities that violate s. 1000.05(4)(a) or that espouse diversity, equity, and inclusion or Critical Race Theory rhetoric."
During a legislative meeting with the House Postsecondary Education and Workforce committee on March 13, Andrade said the bill would not impact Black-Greek lettered organizations.
"How does this impact ... Black sororities and fraternities and their ability to host social justice events, voter registration events, social justice to each other's peers?" Rep. Yvonne Hinson, D-Gainesville, asked Andrade at the committee meeting.
Andrade replied, "It does not. It does not affect them at all."
The writing of the bill was updated on March 15. and now reads: "... student fees to support student-led organizations are permitted notwithstanding any speech or expressive activity by such organizations that would otherwise violate this subsection ..."
"I would never do anything to harm or infringe or do away with the opportunity for students coming up behind me," Andrade told First Coast News on Monday. "Regardless of what student lead organization espouses, believes in, promotes, the restrictions in the bill regarding DEI do not apply to them."
Andrade said the bill does a number of things. In this case, it would do away with DEI administrators. It would "review and remove" majors and minors that "don't meet the statutory mission and directive of the state university system."
"So we have exemptions and they're saying that if that funding is coming down, it has those restrictions in it and state universities are not going to be penalized for complying with those requirements," Andrade explained.
Andrade says DEI administrators and departments have used Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to shut down speech they do not agree with and inject "arguments for discrimination in the name of equity."
"Unless you're trying to argue that Divine Nine fraternities and sororities or the Black Student Union or the Asian American Student Union are not student-led, you are lying," Andrade added.