New College board member floats leadership shakeup, ‘terminating’ all employee contracts

The Christian Nazis have taken over a liberal arts college that the Deathsantis wannabe king hated as it taught respect and compassion for others along with all the other life skills of education.   I am so worried that we did not realize how behind the curtain these groups were building up power.   Remember the first time he got elected governor Deathsantis barely won, he was almost defeated.   But by giving into the hate and discrimination demanded by the minority haters who cannot accept that time has moved on from cavemen days and stoking that hate into action DeathSantis created a large following.   He won this last election with a wide margin partly due to the corporate democrats insisting on putting a former republican up against him.   Think about it, Democrats don’t want a former republicans who vetoed everything they wanted and the republicans don’t want a republican lite.   Those of us in the state knew this would be the result but the national democratic committees claimed they knew better, as they always do and they are always wrong.   Notice the first thing this new right wing Christian Nationalist insisted on was opening with a prayer to his god, not anyone else’s god but his Christian god.    We are lucky that DeathSantis cannot run again for governor but the state is seriously fucked now as much as other southern states.    Yet it was a blue state not this way when I moved here in 1994.   Sorry I hurt too much to colorize it.    Hugs

Zac Anderson
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Recently appointed trustee of New College of Florida, Jason "Eddie" Speir, speaks to faculty and staff of New College during a meeting Wednesday morning in Sarasota.

A new president, new board chair and new legal counsel all will be up for discussion Tuesday when the New College of Florida board meets, along with the possibility of ending faculty tenure, terminating all employee contracts and rehiring anyone who fits into the school’s “new financial and business model.”

These are all ideas floated by new board member Eddie Speir in a recent Substack post. They could result in a big shakeup less than a month after Gov. Ron DeSantis reshaped New College’s board in a bid to reinvent the 63-year-old Sarasota school.

Speir, a Christian school founder appointed by DeSantis to the board, wrote a Substack post over the weekend saying he wants to “Discuss need for new president and possible motion to give Pat Okker title of Interim President.”

More:New board member says his assignment is ‘to lead New College of Florida out of wokeness’

More:New era at New College kicks off with contentious meetings, report of death threat

New College President Patricia Okker has been on the job for less than two years, but DeSantis’ push to transform the school has led to speculation about her future at the college and that only increased when Tuesday’s board agenda was released with “President Okker’s Employment Agreement” as one of the discussion items.

The agenda also includes “Election of the Board Chair and Vice Chair” and “General Counsel to Board of Trustees.” Speir appears to be a driving force behind some of these discussions.

New College of Florida President Patricia Okker

Tuesday’s board meeting, which starts at 3 p.m. at the Sudakoff Conference Center, has been a subject of intense interest. It is the first meeting for seven new conservative board members, including six chosen by DeSantis.

Speir and other new board members have criticized the college’s leadership.

Speir clashed with legal counsel David Smolker over his request to open the board meeting with prayer. He said Smolker initially denied the request, but in his latest Substack said that decision was reversed and an opening prayer will be allowed.

Speir writes in his Substack that he wants to “dismiss General Counsel from the Board, NOT the school.” He also makes it clear that he wants to remove board Chair Mary Ruiz.

“My concern is that Chair Ruiz will not resign and/or delay resignation,” he writes. “Thereby halting and/or delaying the necessary clarity that NCF needs as soon as possible.”

Mary Ruiz

New College Professor Amy Reid, director of the school’s gender studies program, urged board members to be more deliberative and not move “rashly” to replace leadership.

“We’ve heard a lot of saber rattling from individuals, but we still haven’t heard from the majority of the board” Reid said. “I encourage the board to find out more about the institution, to really look before they leap when it comes to leadership changes.”

It’s not clear if a majority of board members would back a leadership shakeup at the college.

Mark Bauerlein, one of the board members appointed by DeSantis, told the Herald-Tribune recently that he has “no idea” if he would support Okker’s removal.

“I haven’t seen any records about her, but our phone call the other day was pleasant and informative,” Bauerlein said.

New College of Florida Board of Trustees member Mark Bauerlein

Speir has a long list of motions he plans to make at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Among them is a proposal to identify “wokeness” as a “set of beliefs” akin to religion. He then wants to identify aspects of wokeness that are “shared values” worth preserving, that are “dogmatic” and should be excluded from curriculum and that are “pledges of fealty” that should be actively fought against.

“One such example of a pledge of fealty is the demand that woke pronouns are used,” Speir writes.

Speir also wants to explore ending faculty tenure and “terminating all contracts for faculty, staff and administration and immediately rehiring those faculty, staff and administration who fit in the new financial and business model.” He wants to board to send a letter to “the new counsel” seeking a legal opinion on the feasibility of such a plan.

Another motion Speir plans to introduce would remove some media members from the meeting.

“I move that we remove USA Today and its affiliates from the list of approved media outlets until an apology is received with a commitment from USA Today to adhere to its own policies,” Speir writes, referencing Herald-Tribune parent company Gannett’s flagship newspaper, USA Today.

The Herald-Tribune is part of USA TODAY Network – Florida. Speir is upset about comments made by Herald-Tribune readers.

The Herald-Tribune reached out to Speir for comment Monday morning and has yet to receive a response. When contacted for comment last week, Speir said “I’m still waiting for a formal apology” from the Herald-Tribune and the removal of reader comments.

New College Board of Trustees meeting

The New College of Florida Board of Trustees is meeting from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31 at Sudakoff Conference Center, 5845 General Dougher Pl Sarasota, FL 34243.

Visit the Herald-Tribune’s website – – for live coverage of the board meeting. A full report on the meeting will be in Thursday’s print newspaper.

Megachurch Pastor Accused Of Sexual Misconduct

On The Meeting House website, Cavey expands on his views of same-sex marriage, telling his followers that the church “holds to a traditional view of marriage as designed by God to unite a man and a woman in a covenant union of love.”

American Christians busted pushing conversion therapy in Costa Rica by undercover reporters

A child on the floor, crying
Photo: Shutterstock

Therapists linked to two U.S. organizations are telling LGBTQ people in Costa Rica that homosexuality is wrong and that only a “sadistic god” would create a gay person, according to a report from Open Democracy.

A second report also found that the same conservative Christian groups are also undermining U.S. laws, pushing conversion therapy in municipalities that have outlawed the practice. The undercover investigation found two conversion therapy counsellors operating in states where the practice is prohibited. One advised a reporter posing as a 17-year-old lesbian to “suppress” her orientation, including by starving herself.


Therapists connected to Focus on the Family and the Exodus Global Alliance made the comments while ‘treating’ or offering to ‘treat’ undercover reporters posing as gay or lesbian people.

Focus on the Family was founded in 1977 by conservative psychologist James Dobson. Dobson, who Mike Pence considers his role model, is known for his extreme views, including his push for corporal punishment that has now been found to have traumatizing effects for children. Dobson also once said that the shooting at Sandy Hook happened because of gay marriage, and in the same vein published a newsletter with a letter that said fathers should take their sons into bathrooms to show them that they have the same private parts.

Exodus Global Alliance is the global wing of the disbanded and controversial ex-gay group Exodus International. James Dobson also founded the Family Research Council, a group designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Conversion therapy is considered “ineffective” and “harmful” by the Pan-American Health Organization and has been condemned by Costa Rica’s official associations of psychologists and psychiatrists. The Netflix documentary, Pray Away, offers an in-depth analysis of the ex-gay movement, with testimonials from former members of Exodus International explaining the sinister machinations behind the anti-LGBTQ group.

One of the reporters for the exposé posed as a married woman who had become involved in an extra-marital lesbian relationship. She contacted Enfoque a la Familia – the Costa Rican arm of Focus on the Family – via its website, where she was able to book and pay in dollars for an online therapy session with a psychologist listed on the site.​​

Another reporter posed as a young gay man. He went to Exodus Latinoamérica, Exodus Global Alliance’s group.

Both therapists the reporters contacted were certified by the Costa Rica’s Psychology Association, CPPCR, despite the organization calling for a ban on conversion therapy.

The woman’s therapist said the word “guilt” ten times and told the reporter that homosexuality was wrong. The practitioner also went on to say that homosexuality is the imperfect “lifestyle” that is learned or developed.

“God created man and woman[…] our perfect match, and he’s perfect and marvelous. This [homosexuality] is learned, is something developed on the road,” she said.

The practitioner then asked if she would like to cast out her desire for women.

At Exodus, the male reporter’s psychologist said that homosexuality is a sin.

“I serve God first. I’m not treating homosexuality as common people do[…] God says this is a sin, so we treat it as a sin.” She also said that “nobody is born homosexual, because only a sadistic God would forbid this sin in the Bible and, at the same time, create you like that.”

Another reporter went undercover to an Evangelical church in the nation’s capital San José for counselling on how to handle his “unwanted homosexuality.” He experienced a 90-minute session full of misleading and derogatory claims from a pastor.

She claimed that most gay people are drug users, compared gay sex to defecation, and said that porn, sexual abuse, and parental sin are reasons for being gay. The pastor also claimed that the reporter was probably born after his parents watched porn, thereby making him “born tainted.”

The pastor defended her claims about the links between homosexuality and drug use, pornography, sexual abuse, parental sins, and masturbation, which, she said, are “conclusions” drawn from her “40 years of experience as a Christian spiritual counsellor” and from biblical verses that she quoted for each of the claims in her reply.

Costa Rica is looking to ban conversion therapy in 2022 with a bill, but LGBTQ rights advocates acknowledge that even if it passes, religious groups like Exodus and Focus on the Family will find a loophole around the ban. Most conversion therapy practitioners are not licensed medical professionals.

Shi Alarcón, a sociologist and sexual diversity activist for an LGBTQ youth support group in Costa Rica known as Casa Rara, says she has seen these conversion therapy camps expanding across Costa Rica. Teenagers are being subjected to the traumatic torture at alarming rates, she said.

“If I listen to ten teenagers per month, eight tell me they were taken to or were offered [conversion sessions at churches] or were told by their mothers: ‘We’re going to do this,’” Alacarón said.

Alacarón supports a conversion therapy ban, but she says that we need to advocate for broader scopes on banning conversion therapy in all places, including churches.

“We need to widen the scope of hate crimes to include ‘conversion therapy’ – and stop calling it ‘therapy,’” she said. “We need to stop relinquishing the words that we use to feel fine – ‘family,’ ‘therapy,’ ‘health’ – to conservative groups.”

Costa Rica’s bill is poised to face strong opposition from anti-LGBTQ organizations like Focus on the Family and Exodus International—through branches that are shown to be under the control of its U.S. affiliates. Both groups still operate in U.S. states where conversion therapy is currently banned.

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