Florida’s public university students seemed reluctant to fill out a controversial survey on so-called “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” that was prompted by the Legislature, as about 8,800 of some 368,000 students bothered to submit responses.
University of Florida/Florida State
Opponents of a controversial 2021 law asked a federal judge this weekend to prevent the state from moving forward with surveys about “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” on college and university campuses.
During a meeting Friday, UF Board of Trustees chairman Mori Hosseini led the charge in sharply criticizing the professors and rallying around university President Kent Fuchs, though Hosseini appeared to misunderstand the scope of professors’ academic freedom.
In a letter to University of Florida President Kent Fuchs on Thursday, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties said the panel has opened a probe into UF’s conflict-of-interest policy used to silence professors, saying it “undermines the academic and free speech values that are essential” to higher education.
Florida universities on Monday heralded their advancement in a national ranking of public universities, but none celebrated harder than the University of Florida after cracking the top five on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” for the first time.
The proposal also would prevent colleges and universities from “shielding” students, faculty and staff from any kind of speech. Opponents have argued the provision would allow groups like the Ku Klux Klan to come to campuses.
A huge outcry included a student-led opposition campaign causing most controversial parts of the bill to be eliminated. Opponents are now focusing criticism on whether the measure will jeopardize future funding for the program.
Under the amendment filed by Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, Bright Futures scholarships would be “reduced” for students who don’t choose an academic discipline deemed promising for job prospects.
Florida university officials have started suspending fraternities and punishing students who flout coronavirus-safety measures, as schools grapple with cases of the virus at the beginning of the fall semester.
The situation at some Florida universities has mimicked events in other parts of the country, where several colleges experienced an uptick in infections days after students returned to campus this month.