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DeSantis Proposes Surveying Students, Faculty on Political Views

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tags: Florida, academic freedom, Ron DeSantis



TALLAHASSEE — In his continued push against the “indoctrination” of students, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed legislation that will require public universities and colleges to survey students, faculty and staff about their beliefs and viewpoints to support “intellectual diversity.”

The survey will discern “the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented” in public universities and colleges, and seeks to find whether students, faculty and staff “feel free to express beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom,” according to the bill.

The measure, which goes into effect July 1, does not specify what will be done with the survey results. But DeSantis and Sen. Ray Rodrigues, the sponsor of the bill, suggested on Tuesday that budget cuts could be looming if universities and colleges are found to be “indoctrinating” students.

“That’s not worth tax dollars and that’s not something that we’re going to be supporting moving forward,” DeSantis said at a press conference at a middle school in Fort Myers.

University faculty members have worried the new measure could create a chilling effect on their freedom of speech. Democratic lawmakers also have argued the bill might allow politicians to meddle in, monitor and regulate speech on campus in the future.

DeSantis, however, said the intent of the measure is to prevent public universities and colleges from becoming “hotbeds for stale ideology.”

“It used to be thought that a university campus was a place where you’d be exposed to a lot of different ideas,” DeSantis said. “Unfortunately, now the norm is, these are more intellectually repressive environments. You have orthodoxies that are promoted, and other viewpoints are shunned or even suppressed.”

The governor did not name specific state universities or colleges with this problem. He was broad in his accusations about the higher education system and used vague anecdotes to justify the need for such a survey.

For instance, the governor said he “knows a lot of parents” who are worried that their children will be “indoctrinated” when they go off to college, and that universities are promoting “orthodoxies.” But he did not offer specifics on those claims.

Read entire article at Tampa Bay Times

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