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Barbarians inside the gate


There has some really superb reporting about the takeover of the New College by DeSantis, Rufo, and their cronies. I linked to this one yesterday which rich is really rich in detail, such as:

Elizabeth Leininger, a biology and neuroscience professor who left New College this summer and will begin a new position at St. Mary’s College of Maryland in the fall, said some of the canceled classes have been electives—including neurobiology, which she used to teach. But she knows of at least one canceled course that is mandatory for a major: introduction to animal wellbeing, which is required for the relatively new animal wellbeing & conservation major.

And as more electives get canceled, it becomes harder for students to meet the requirements for their area of concentration.

“For neuroscience, there’s only one elective beyond the introductory level right now, which is not healthy,” Leininger said, noting that the number of faculty in NCF’s neuroscience program has declined from three to one. “The number of choices students have this year is drastically reduced … if one of those classes conflicts with another class they have to take that is completely required, they’re going to have trouble staying on track for their major.”

Leininger said she received permission from her new institution to teach New College’s neurobiology course over Zoom—a plan the NCF administration at first seemed to embrace. In an email to Leininger that she shared with Inside Higher Ed, Bradley Thiessen, the college’s interim provost, said he would “advocate” for her to teach the course if she was willing and able to do so.

But about two months later, she got word from NCF that she would not be allowed to teach the class, for reasons that were not explained. She suspects it may have something to do with her outspoken opposition to the direction DeSantis and the board are taking the institution, which has included speaking to the media about her decision to leave and reposting criticisms of the administration on X.

According to Leininger, the neurobiology course was listed in the course catalogue with her as the professor earlier in the summer but has since been removed. At least 11 students had already registered for the course, which is an elective for multiple majors, when it was unlisted, she said.

The amazing thing about this is that Lenininger already had another job, and was presumably teaching the online class at an adjunct rate. Not letting her teach this class in retaliation hurts students at the college far more than it hurts her, but as we’ll see that’s more of a feature than a bug.

Don’t worry, though, the new leadership has a very robust process in place to replace the 40 faculty who want no part of being a part of the Sarasota campus of Prager U:

New College officials did not respond to a question regarding whether the university is planning to do anything to help students whose courses have been canceled. The college is currently trying to recruit more faculty. Chris Rufo, the conservative activist-turned-New College trustee appointed by DeSantisposted on X on Friday that the college is hiring a “large cohort of new tenure-track faculty” in 14 departments, directing prospective candidates to contact him at his personal email account.

In my two decades experiencing the job market, I must say I’ve never heard of “email your cv to a member of the Board of Trustees” as an application process. Of course, a real job search might result in, say, someone with a doctorate or someone who thinks that women aren’t a toxic presence on a college campus getting through, gotta cut those off at the pass.

Many people have noted that the goons running the school are comprehensively inept administrators, which is certainly true. But what’s worse than that is that they’re also incredibly cruel bullies, hellbent on punishing students guilty of nothing except “not sharing Christopher Rufo’s fanatical hatred of women and queer people”:

Students first heard in June that there was a chance their housing contracts, which were finalized in April, could change, according to a Tampa Bay Times article from July. Apartments typically reserved for juniors and seniors would now house the more than 100 new student athletes New College had admitted for the fall.

The remaining students are being squeezed into the other dorms on campus—except for a number of rooms that are offline due to mold and other structural problems—or being asked to live in a nearby hotel, the Home2 Suites by Hilton Sarasota Bradenton Airport, if they cannot secure their own off-campus housing. The college has rented out the entire Home2 Suites for the semester, totaling 133 beds, according to the contract between the institution and the hotel.


Students placed in the Home2 Suites hotel worry about how they will commute to and from New College, about a mile away. For those without vehicles, the journey consists of a 15-minute walk largely along a stretch of busy highway. Parents and faculty have also complained that high levels of crime make the area unsafe, especially at night. While a shuttle is available, it is infrequent—running hourly until 11 p.m.—and can only carry a handful of passengers.

“They don’t seem to be able to plan ahead very well at all,” said Hannah Galantino-Homer, whose son was assigned to live in the Home2 Suites, although he had already decided to transfer out of New College by the time he got the news a few weeks ago. “Like, you don’t think people need to be on campus after [11]?”


The details of New College’s contract with the hotel, made public just ahead of the Aug. 10 board meeting, listed a number of policies for students that are significantly more stringent than the college’s. While the college allows students over 21 to drink alcohol in their dorms and in certain outdoor areas, for instance, residents of the Home2 Suites are not permitted to drink, regardless of their age.

Students will not be able to order room service and the hotel will “not supply any food and beverage service” except for coffee, according to the contract. But the hotel also bans cooking appliances like hot pots and toaster ovens, and while this is consistent with New College’s residential policies, on-campus students will have easier access to the college’s dining hall and deli.

The hotel also has a “No Party Policy” and limits the number of guests in a room “at any given time” to two people, leaving students concerned about whether they will be able to socialize there.

These are absolutely, thoroughly, despicable people.

This is another terrific story about a professor who isn’t able to leave voluntarily during the Nazification process:

When administrators told students and faculty to remove the pronouns from their email signatures, Reid refused. [Free speech! –ed.]

When they announced they had hired a baseball coach, she felt sorry for the future players. New College doesn’t even have a ball field.

When a colleague told her that a Bible verse had appeared on cups at the campus coffee shop, she had to see for herself. There it was, in red, with the name of the Bible chapter spelled wrong: “Phillipians” 4:13. Reid looked up the words. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Then, a colleague she knew distantly, a computer science professor named Aaron Hillegass, was all over the news.

He had called the governor a fascist and tweeted his resignation, which went viral: “If I were more patriotic,” Hillegass typed, “I would burn the college’s buildings to the ground.”

It’s heartbreaking seeing her worn down to a nub by the anti-intellectual bullies destroying everything good about the college:

As faculty chairperson, Reid offered to write a letter welcoming students for fall — “a love letter telling them how much New College wants them.”

Then administrators painted over the coffee shop murals. They reassigned dorm rooms that seniors had been promised to newly recruited athletes. They eliminated the African studies learning community and shuttered the beloved Pride dorm.

The student who was supposed to be the resident adviser there told Reid that classmates had been diving into dumpsters, trying to salvage posters and books – and that he, too, had decided to transfer.

“All this time, I’ve been fighting for the students,” Reid said recently. She paused, shook her head, wiped her eyes. “But if they successfully chase away everyone we are trying to save this place for, I don’t know what we’re still fighting for.”

She couldn’t write that letter.

If they actually try to build a functional neoconfederate college in place of what they’ve ruined, their incompetence will become more important than their malice, but I doubt they actually care about that. The model they’re trying to show off is how to wreck things — once that’s been done they’ll get bored, cash out, and move on to the next grift. That’s certainly what Rufo’s always done. But this playbook will be there and will lead to an enormous amount of damage.

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