Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a very strange room legislation requiring all state universities and public colleges to investigate the “beliefs” of their students, faculty and staff. The purpose of polls, according to DeSantis, is to ensure that these institutions represent “intellectual diversity.”
The bill says these polls will track “the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented” and will determine whether students, faculty and staff “feel free to express their beliefs and views on the subject. campus and classroom ”. It is not clear what will be done with the poll results, although DeSantis has threatened universities and colleges with budget cuts if they are found to be “indoctrinating” students.
“It used to be that a college campus was a place where you were exposed to a lot of different ideas,” DeSantis said at a press conference. “Unfortunately, now the norm is that these are more intellectually repressive environments. You have orthodoxies that are promoted and other points of view are rejected or even suppressed. He gave no example.
Critics say the bill comes down to controlling “thought crime” because there is no real standard for what is meant by “intellectual diversity”. Give politicians the power to monitor and maybe even meddle in what can and cannot be believed on campus. “I am concerned that this bill forces a frightening self-awareness that is not so much about learning and debate as it is appearances and playing with an outside audience,” said Cathy Boehme, researcher at Florida Education. Association. Miami Herald.
In a session at the state prosecutor’s office, Senator Lori Berman told supporters of the bill that the law crosses an uncomfortable line, allowing political leaders to control beliefs. “Don’t you think it’s dangerous for us to have all the data on the personal opinions of professors and university students? she asked. His concerns were dismissed.
Of course, colleges and universities should be environments that encourage curiosity and promote diversity of thought. And if there is a model of students or faculty who feel like valid fields of study are being squashed, then this is something worth addressing. But it’s worth considering whether this level of oversight really helps encourage free thinking, and whether the people in charge are the best for this particular job.