New College of Florida’s first full-time and only tenure track gender studies professor has resigned, according to a resignation letter shared with Inside Higher Ed by Amy Reid, a professor of French and the director of gender studies at the college.
Nicholas Clarkson, who joined the gender studies department five years ago, cited the Board of Trustees’ failure to provide evidence for actions it has taken—such as denying tenure to five professors and starting to dismantle the gender studies major—as a key reason for his resignation.
He also condemned interim president Richard Corcoran, to whom the letter is addressed, and other trustees for their involvement in cultivating the state’s growing anti-LGBTQ+ culture and legislation, which he said made it impossible for him to live in the state as a transgender man.
He accused Corcoran specifically of creating hostility towards LGBTQ+ people at New College when he “fired multiple prominent LGBTQ faculty and staff, ripped gender-neutral bathroom signage off the walls, and canceled the Pride Living-Learning Community, throwing away their books.”
“I am reluctant to leave my colleagues and students behind, but you’ve already destroyed the New College I loved, and I won’t work in an environment characterized by censorship, refusal of accountability, blatant disregard for students’ wellbeing, and consistent denigration of both my work and my personhood,” Clarkson wrote.
“New College employs an incredibly diverse group of individuals—individuals from all walks of life, each with their own dreams, goals, personalities, and more. And among the faculty and staff at various levels, are still members of the LGBTQ community, including myself,” Ryan Terry, NCF’s vice president of communications and marketing, told Inside Higher Ed in an email in response to Clarkson’s resignation. “At New College, no single individual is ever treated any differently than anyone else. You can be your authentic self at New College.”
Responding to Clarkson’s assertion that Corcoran had fired LGBTQ employees, Terry wrote: “At New College, any disciplinary action is taken only for professional and/or academic misconduct.”
The resignation came on Thursday, just over a week before the first day of classes for New College students.
The college also announced Thursday that it has partnered with two more hotels for students to live in this fall, after shuttering the I.M. Pei Residence Halls due to mold and structural issues. Freshmen usually live in those dorms, which house more than 250 students, but this year freshmen and incoming student athletes will live in apartment-style dorms typically reserved for upperclassmen.
New College had already announced that it would house some students in a Home2 Suites about a mile north of campus, raising concerns about how students would commute to and from campus.
The two hotels that the college has added to its roster include a Hilton Garden Inn on the same property as the Home2 Suites and a Hyatt Regency located about 3.7 miles south of campus in downtown Sarasota.
Terry responded to a list of questions from Inside Higher Ed with a statement.
“Students that have elected to have [sic] meal plan will receive meals, and transportation will be provided for students that have indicated that need—similar to other campus commuter communities. Students are assigned hotels based on multiple factors—including medical requirements, grade level, access to transportation,” the statement read in part. “Any need a student has is respected and all reasonable accommodations are made in order to provide the best housing possible.”
According to an email from the New College Student Alliance, the college only rented out one of the hotels in its entirety; those staying at the Hilton Garden Inn and the Hyatt Regency will live among other hotel guests. The message also said that there will be no shuttle from the Regency but that “taking the price of gas out of housing costs is being discussed.”
A total of 223 beds have been reserved at the three hotels. New College is anticipating enrolling between 650 and 750 students this fall.