Governor Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed a bill requiring every Florida state college to conduct an annual assessment of intellectual freedom and diversity of viewpoints.
âBefore, we thought that a college campus was a place where you were exposed to a lot of different ideas. Unfortunately, now the norm is really more intellectually repressive environments, âDeSantis said. âYou have orthodoxies being promoted, and other views being rejected or even suppressed, and we don’t want that in Florida. “
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At the bill signing event in Fort Myers, DeSantis even hinted at potential budget cuts for colleges whose survey results show student indoctrination.
âWe want our universities to be focused on critical thinking and academic rigor. We don’t want them to be essentially hotbeds of outdated ideology. It’s not worth taxpayer dollars and it’s not something we’re going to support in the future, âDeSantis said.
According to the bill, the state Board of Education will create an “objective, non-partisan and statistically valid survey” to ensure intellectual freedom and diversity of views at the college.
Under the bill, intellectual freedom and diversity of viewpoints are defined as “the exposure of students, faculty and staff to, and the encouragement of their exploration of a variety of ideological perspectives and policies â
Some students at the University of Central Florida are concerned about the scope of the bill and the possibility that political or religious issues will end up in the investigation.
âJust make sure the questions are in-depth enough that they don’t really enter a student’s personal life outside of their opinion on things. It can be a little tricky, âsaid Christopher Dickson, junior at UCF.
“If it wasn’t anonymous, would I be comfortable? I wouldn’t do it because I don’t know which hands it’s going to, âsaid UCF senior Alexis Howard.
While UCF students are divided as to whether or not the survey is necessary, they agree that on campus it’s okay to disagree.
âYou are open to believing whatever you want. I’ve never been to this campus and felt limited in my opinions, âHoward said.
The bill also prevents Florida colleges from protecting students from ideas they might find uncomfortable and offensive.
What will happen to colleges and staff who break the new laws? The bill does not go into the details of the penalties.
Under the bill, students will also be allowed to record their lessons for personal use without the consent of others, however, recordings cannot be published without the permission of the professor.
The bill also provides for an appeal process and more rights for students who face disciplinary action from the college.
The law will come into force on July 1, but the results of the first survey are not expected to be released until the end of 2022.
News 6 has contacted the governor’s office and the board of governors for clarification on the specific questions that will be in the investigation and have yet to receive a response.
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