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At a recent faculty Senate meeting at Florida Atlantic University, the interim provost assured staff the school was not collecting data on whether they were having “sex with animals.”  

The reference to bestiality was made by regarding concerns by the faculty the university was sharing information with the state on its Black and LGBT employees.

“We did not know what color — if they were purple, if they had sex with animals,” Michele Hawkins said.

It was a joke that fell flat.

According to Inside Higher Ed the quip was met with groans and chuckles.

SFGN contacted FAU’s media relations department for a comment twice via email with no response.  

But FAU sent a statement to Inside Higher Ed.

“In a comment that was intended to emphasize her acceptance of all individuals, she inadvertently invoked language that did not convey her beliefs,” a university spokesperson told Inside Higher Ed. “Upon further reflection following the meeting’s conclusion, she better understood how her comment was received, and that she had mis-spoken. She deeply regrets her choice of words.”

The faculty member who challenged Hawkins during the meeting, Allan Barsky, told Inside Higher Ed, “I thought it was a teachable moment.”

Barsky continued: “Sodomy was criminalized, suggesting that people are evil, against God, against the law. And [in] the DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, homosexuality was for a long time listed as a mental health disorder. So, there was kind of equation of same-sex relations with bestiality and other sexual crimes, so it just kind of harkens back to that.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis has been recently targeting the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion departments at Florida's universities and state colleges. They’ve asked them to complete a "comprehensive list of all staff, programs, and campus activities related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and critical race theory."

Barsky also commended Hawkins for her quick apology.

“Dr. Hawkins’s choice of words was unfortunate, but she did not intend to say something negative about LGBTQ people,” Barsky told Higher Ed. “She is a strong proponent of respect, social justice and DEI. Her apology was a brave response.”