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University of Florida offers ‘Data Feminisms’ class, won’t provide syllabus

School contradicts own policy on public information

The University of Florida plans to offer a “Data Feminisms” course this upcoming semester.

However, the public university refuses to provide a current syllabus.

The class will use “critical data, algorithm studies, and feminist science and technology studies to develop essential tools of inquiry needed to approach data in a context of racialized, gendered, colonial, and classed systems of power,” according to its description.

The class is listed under “Fall 2024” classes in the department of gender, sexuality, and women’s studies. It is also listed in the course catalog for the fall semester.

But the university declined to provide a syllabus because “the course has not yet been finalized for the fall semester,” according to spokesperson Cynthia Roldan.

Roldan told The College Fix to request the syllabus via a public records request.

The university then again denied the request, stating “the draft syllabus you requested is not available because the course has not been taught in a year and a half and has not been formalized for the Fall semester.”

That appears to contradict the public university’s own policies.

“All University of Florida course syllabi should be made available on the Web in accordance with the UF Policy on Course Syllabi,” the office of the provost states.

Professor Hina Shaikh, the listed instructor for the class, did not respond to two emailed requests for comment sent in the past several weeks.

Her “research interests” include “critical data and algorithm studies,” “feminist studies of space and place,” and “critical Muslim studies,” according to her personal website.

“In this course, we center how racial capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy define who is the subject or object of data collection, cleaning, analysis, and management,” a one-page document for the fall 2021 version of the course stated.

“We learn how to read datasets with a critical feminist science and technology studies lens and critically examine technologies of surveillance such as Big Data, facial recognition, and biometric data collection,” Shaikh’s course description stated.

“How do systems of anti-blackness, settler colonialism, white supremacy, and capitalism effect data and science,” a 2022 course syllabus stated.

MORE: University of Florida eliminates DEI office, positions, and contracts

A political scientist who studies the influence of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” on public universities in Republican-led states, criticized the course. He said Florida’s efforts to eliminate DEI in public universities have not focused yet on course material, but rather other policies.

However, he said reforming “departments and disciplines” that promote DEI should be the next goal.

“Generally, the whole diversity equity ideology comes to universities in two ways. First, from the bottom up and second, from the top down,” Professor Scott Yenor, who teaches at Boise State University, told The Fix via email.

“The bottom-up problem has been happening for more than two generations, as disciplines are captured by leftist identity politics ideology,” he said.

“The second most recent manifestation of this is the top-down imposition of policies, curricular changes, hiring practices, student admissions, and special scholarships that fall under the rubric of DEI,” Yenor said.

“The laws that have been passed have mostly aimed at the second, top-down versions of DEI,” he said.

“So, while such classes are part of the DEI ideology, they are not really part of what the laws are designed to eliminate,” Yenor said.

“[D]epartments and disciplines whose professional standards are infused with DEI should be one of the next stages in our effort to reform our corrupt and corrupting universities.”

MORE: University of Florida has 1 administrator for every 4 undergrads

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Pedro Boccalato Rodriguez-Aparicio is a pre-law student at Florida State University. Since becoming a citizen in 2019, Pedro has aspired to pursue a career in American politics, law, and journalism.