Republicans in Florida target campus “intellectual diversity” in a belief survey


In a move against the so-called cancellation culture that has been created over the years, a majority of Florida Republicans require public universities to investigate students, faculty and staff about their beliefs and perspectives. It looks like you’re ready to pass the law.

The study prohibits colleges and university staff from restricting statements that “may be offensive, unpleasant, or offensive,” and consents to students supporting civil or criminal cases against higher education institutions. It is part of a wide range of measures that allow lectures to be recorded without. Educational institution.

According to the bill’s sponsors, its purpose is to protect the “intellectual freedom and diversity of perspectives” of state campuses. But university faculty are worried about the proposal. House building 233, Freedom of speech can have a chilling effect.

Cathy Beme, a researcher at the Florida Education Association, said:

Such legislation could also pave the way for politicians to interfere with, monitor and regulate speeches on campus based on university findings, Democrats accuse.

“Isn’t it dangerous to get all the data on the personal opinions of college faculty and students?” Senator Lori Berman of D-Delray Beach asked during a Senate floor session last week. It was.

The answer was by far no from Senator Ray Rodriguez, R-Estero, who sponsored the bill.

“I don’t think it’s dangerous,” Rodriguez said. “Other states on this path actually find it educational and beneficial. I think Florida is also educational and beneficial.”

Florida higher education institutions could quickly find out if that was the case.

The bill will be teeed up for a Senate vote as early as Wednesday. It is expected that the Republican-controlled chamber of commerce will be passed by a partisan vote. This is a trend seen in all committees whose bills were deliberated in Congress in 2021.

What happens when the survey is complete?

In the House and Senate committee discussions, one of the main concerns was not about the investigation, but what to do with the results of the investigation.

“Can this information be used to punish or reward colleges? Can faculty members be promoted or fired because of their political beliefs?” Berman Wondered last week.

Rodriguez says the answer is no.

However, the research language under the bill lacks the details to support that claim. There is no guarantee that survey responses will be anonymous, and it is not clear who will use the data for what purpose.

The bill was chosen by the Governor’s Committee of the State University System and the State Board of Education, perhaps through the public procurement or rule-making process of both councils, as an “objective, nonpartisan, statistically valid investigation.” It states that it needs to be created.

For example, the Florida Department of Education has added to the bill to ensure that the State Board of Education has rule-making authority to implement college research requirements, according to an email obtained by Herald / Times through a public agency. Record the request that provided Rodriguez’s words to.

Department officials also provided Rodriguez with an “issue” on how to sell the language on the committee. A spokeswoman, Tallinn Fenceke, said Tuesday that the ministry would only provide “clarification of technical editing” to the bill and would continue to evaluate the entire proposal as it progressed through the process.

The bill states that despite the lack of details, it is necessary to investigate “how much competing ideas and perspectives are presented” at public universities and university campuses. It also aims to ensure that students, faculty and staff are “free to express their beliefs and perspectives on campus and in the classroom.”

Rodriguez said the board overseeing the university would decide if something needed to be done accordingly.

“If the results come back and show a lack of intellectual freedom or diversity of perspectives, the governing body of the institution will recognize it and decide that it is unacceptable and announce plans to address it. I hope that, “Rodriguez said.

However, the Democratic Party is worried that politics may be involved as these board members are full of political appointees. Rodriguez sought to blame them for the concept, claiming that political appointees did not share the feeling of “abusing their position for their own political purposes.”

At the Florida House, bill sponsor Spencer Roach argued that future Congress could “use the data as the basis for making policy decisions.”

In an interview on Tuesday, lobbyist Bernie Bishop, a proponent of the bill, said, “If these surveys point to consistent problems over the years, I think policy should develop from there. “.

Bishop does not name clients other than saying that it is lobbying the bill on behalf of “citizens for responsible spending,” a “grassroots organization that works on ethics, budget, and good work.” .. He is the only lobbyist to represent a non-educational group promoting the bill.

When asked why, he painted a dark and oppressive picture.

“Our people, who have a variety of ideas and look at both sides of the problem, understand that the way cards are stacked in the education system is towards liberal ideology and secularism to the left. I think we do. The values ​​that our country was established in, “said Bishop. “And they are the values ​​we need to regain our country.”

Bishop said, “I certainly want[s]Efforts go even further — on the K-12 system.

“I don’t think the problem lies solely in higher education,” Bishop said. “The truth of the matter is that children have been indoctrinated since they were young.”

Republican new day

Bold with the benefits of the Senate and the House of Representatives With former President Donald Trump’s state-wide victory in Florida, the Intellectual Investigation Bill has received a lot of attention this year compared to the past few years, which had been stagnant in the Senate.

Rodriguez predicted that the conservative bill would move faster this year as the state “shifted to the right” at the start of the March session.

Rodriguez should know. When he was a former member of the House of Representatives, he submitted bills for several years in a row. But it didn’t go anywhere in Congress.

Only a few years ago, strong Republican Senator Rob Bradley, a former Senate spending chairman, warned his colleagues that a so-called intellectual freedom investigation would be “re-started.” He urged the Senate to prevent it from passing every time, calling the idea dangerous.

When asked about it, Senator Wilton Simpson said the proposal gained momentum in this session because “with our new freshman members, we have a different composition of the Senate.” It was. Some of those freshmen are former members of the House of Representatives, who are often considered more conservative chambers of commerce.

What else is included in the bill?

Besides the provisions that create so-called intellectual research, the bill also prevents universities from “protecting” students, faculty and staff from “offensive” or “offensive” statements.

Democrats are worried that the bill will make it easier for groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and Proud Boys to hold events on campus.

“The only thing that changes as a result of this is that no one can tell the organization. We disagree with your view and are not welcomed here,” Rodriguez argued.

Students can also record classroom lectures without the consent of the professor for educational purposes or in preparation for civil or criminal proceedings against higher education institutions. Rodriguez told the committee that students should be able to “light up” classroom misconduct.

However, the professor may file a civil suit against a student, whether an adult or a minor, if he publishes the recording for any other purpose.

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