Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on June 22, 2021, signed legislation that would require universities to survey students, faculty, and staff about their political views.
The text of the legislation states that the Florida State Board of Education “shall require each Florida College System institution to conduct an annual assessment of the intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity at that institution.” DeSantis suggested the legislation could result in funding cuts for academic institutions.
““We obviously want our universities to be focused on critical thinking, academic rigor,” DeSantis stated, while signing the bill at an elementary school in Fort Myers. “We do not want them as basically hotbeds for stale ideology. That’s not worth tax dollars and it’s not something that we will be supporting.”
The Tampa Bay Times reported that despite the legislation’s stated purpose, educators worried that it would instead have a chilling effect on freedom of speech, noting that DeSantis only offered a vague anecdote about knowing “a lot of parents” worried about “indoctrination” in college.
Democratic Florida state Sen. Lori Berman, for example, raised the concern that faculty might be promoted or fired based on political beliefs. The legislation doesn’t answer that concern, nor does it state that the information provided in the surveys would be anonymous. There’s also “no clarity on who can use the data and for what purpose,” the Tampa Bay Times reported.