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‘Progressive’ college offers easy transfers to students at Florida college now run by conservatives 

‘Hampshire College is proud to stand with students who crave a progressive education,’ it stated

An elite Massachusetts liberal arts college has announced that it will offer an easy transfer process to New College of Florida students, who it claims suffer “ideological limits” under Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reforms.

Hampshire College — which made national headlines in 2016 when it took down the American flag to focus on addressing racism and transphobia — will “offer admission to all New College of Florida students in good standing and match their current cost of tuition,” it reported in a news release Thursday.

Tuition at Hampshire for 2023-24 is $54,892 a year, according to its website.

“This opportunity is in response to the continuing attacks on New College of Florida intended to limit intellectual exploration, turn back progress toward inclusion, and curtail open discussion of race, injustice, and histories of oppression,” the college wrote.

“Who is Hampshire College?” New College of Florida’s Interim President Richard Corcoran asked in response to an email from The College Fix. “I am disappointed by their attempt to get free publicity and insert themselves into a narrative of progress and success in liberal arts education here in Florida.”

Hampshire made its decision after “consulting with the student organizers rallying to preserve New College’s distinctive approach to undergraduate education,” its news release stated. “Hampshire College is proud to stand with students who crave a progressive education.”

These student organizers are affiliated with the advocacy group Save New College, which identifies itself as a “coalition to defend New College and educational freedom from a hostile political takeover,” according to its website.

Hampshire College accused New College’s recently appointed trustees of “impos[ing] a narrowly politicized curriculum” that “broke promises made to its current students to support a self-directed, rigorous education grounded in a commitment to free inquiry,” according to the news release.

“What is happening at New College of Florida is merely the most radical example of increasingly aggressive efforts to suppress meaningful examination of the realities of our society and curb the advancement of democratic ideals, aspirations that should be the mission of higher education,” it stated.

Hampshire College understands higher ed as ‘a means to create a more equitable society,’ it stated

Hampshire College sees as its mandate “reinforc[ing] higher education as a means to create a more equitable society” and believes “[t]he undergraduate experience should be organized around the generation of new possibilities, new questions, and new solutions to the personal, local, and global challenges of the 21st century,” it stated.

The College Fix reached out on March 10 and 12 to Hampshire College’s transfer coordinator and media relations, and the Florida Governor’s Office and Department of Education. Neither has replied.

Gov. DeSantis recently appointed several conservative trustees at New College amid his push to ban DEI initiatives, focus the curriculum on Western Civilization, and increase enrollment, The College Fix reported in February.

The newly constituted Board of Trustees moved on January 31 to remove Patricia Okker, the then-President of New College. The Board replaced Okker with Richard Corcoran, a former Florida education commissioner. This decision drew protests, with students and parents “protest[ing] what they called a ‘hostile takeover’ at New College” according to Politico.

The College Fix also reported on the newly constituted Board of Trustees moved to “abolish [New College’s] DEI bureaucracy, ban coercive ‘diversity” statements and programming, and prohibit identity-based preferences in hiring, admissions, and other procedures” according to Trustee Christopher Rufo.

Rufo characterized the vote to abolish New College’s DEI bureaucracy as a “first” for the country.

“Founded in 1960, New College has struggled to boost its enrollment numbers, failing to meet a target set in a 2018 strategic plan to reach 1,200 students by 2023. Republican lawmakers in 2020 considered proposals to merge the institution with another state school,” The Wall Street Journal reported in January.

“New College of Florida was beset with problems long before DeSantis tapped the new trustees to turnaround the school in what has been billed as an effort to take a highly progressive-left campus and turn it into the ‘Hillsdale of the South,'” The Fix stated.

“Since 1970, we’ve been transforming how college works and defining how progress is made,” Hampshire College’s website states.

“Known as the original disruptors of higher education, we’ve scrapped generic models of learning, empowering you to address urgent issues, be unbounded in your studies, and [be] entrepreneurial in your academic journey,” it continued.

MORE: Pagan alumni of Florida’s New College upset at Gov. DeSantis’s ‘disruption’ of the school

IMAGE: Hampshire College/Facebook

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Terrance Kible is a law student at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Duquesne University. He hopes to pursue a career in journalism. Terrance also writes for the law blog Legal Insurrection, where he was a 2023 College Fix summer intern. Terrance previously wrote for Campus Reform.