The above “Legislation Alert” from Democracy Docket ( founded by attorney Marc E. Elias) is truly disturbing. It appears the GOP “Big Brother” is twisting the concept of “diversity” to try to interfere with academic freedom and to force universities to: a) either hire more conservative faculty and/or b) to force the widespread teaching of conservative political, social and economic theories on campuses. The courts should strike this down.
CORRECTIONS AND CLARIFICATIONS (Please read)
1) SURVEYS WILL BE VOLUNTARY AND ANONYMOUS. Some time after posting the above “Legislative Alert” on my blog, it was brought to my attention that Politifact reported that although it will be mandatory for state higher education institutions to do these surveys, it will be voluntary for faculty, staff and students to complete them. They are also saying that the surveys are anonymous.
Yet, according to the Tampa Bay Times, there is no guarantee in the Florida law that the surveys must be anonymous and no clarifications regarding who has access to “the data and for what purpose.”
2) THE POSSIBILITY OF SKEWED RESULTS. Still, according to Clay Calvert, a University of Florida free speech professor interviewed by Rolling Stone:
They’re mandating the survey, they’re not mandating that people fill it out. Those who are going to be motivated to fill it out are going to be the ones who feel aggrieved. Most students get tons of surveys every day and are just going to say, “Forget it, I’m not going to fill it out.” The middle kind of drops out. I think that’s going to skew the results. [emphasis added]
So, even if it is voluntary, the results might be skewed because they are more likely to be filled out by conservative students who are angry about progressive ideas discussed on campuses.
3) REGARDING ASKING ABOUT POLITAL VIEWS. The Florida Dept. of Education “spokesperson” told Politifact that they won’t be asking for the political views of respondents. HOWEVER, Politifact also said that the benchmark surveys (that “inspired” the Florida law) from the University of Colorado and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ask respondents about their political views/ “leanings”. So until the Florida surveys are completed (they haven’t even been written yet), it seems to me this last assurance should be taken with a grain of salt.
4) DEFUNDING THREATS: There are other reasons to still be concerned about the bill. According to Rolling Stone:
In announcing the bill, DeSantis threatened to defund universities found to be “indoctrinating” students with what he described as “stale ideology.” What exactly is “stale ideology”? It’s up to Republicans and the state’s Board of Education, whose chairman doesn’t believe evolution should be taught as fact. [emphasis added]
According to constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe:
5) NO PROTECTIONS FROM HATE SPEECH/ OFFENSIVE SPEECH. According to the Tampa Bay Times:
In addition to the survey, the measure DeSantis signed into law will bar university and college officials from limiting speech that “may be uncomfortable, disagreeable or offensive,”
What this suggests, according to The Oracle, is that hate speech/ offensive speech on Florida college campuses will now be allowed, including arguments in support of racism, sexism and homophobia. In addition, hate organizations like the KKK will be allowed to assemble on Florida campuses.
6) STUDENTS CAN TAPE RECORD PROFESSOR’S LECTURES WITHOUT CONSENT TO BE USED IN COMPLAINTS. According to an article in The Oracle:
The bill would also allow students to videotape in class without consent if they feel it would aid them in a civil or criminal case, an act which is currently illegal under Florida’s Title XLVII wiretapping laws passed in 2016.
Here is the actual wording in the law:
In other words, it seems to me that many Florida professors may now be worried that anything they say could be audio or videotaped without their consent (or knowledge--it is easy enough to do so with a phone in a large lecture hall without a professor seeing it) and used against them in complaints and court cases by conservative students who are offended by any progressive ideas they express.
[ Posted 06.25.21; updated/ revised 06.28.21 and 07.04.21 ]
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