A proposed measure that would require Florida colleges and universities to poll students about the amount of viewpoint diversity on their campus has been passed by the Senate’s Education Committee. Meanwhile some college educators maintain that the legislation is unnecessary.
Filed in December by Sen. Ray Rodrigues (R-Estero), SB 264 requires the State Board of Education to require each school in the Florida College System to annually conduct an “objective, nonpartisan, and statistically valid survey” of students about the intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity on their campuses. The bill also requires the State Board of Education to publish the results of the surveys on September 1 or each year.
The measure also forbids state board from “shielding” students in Florida College System institutions from free speech protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I of the State Constitution.
On Jan. 26, the Senate Education Committee passed SB 264 by a 6-4 margin.
Meanwhile Matthew Lata Florida State University (FSU) professor and Government Affairs Coordinator for the FSU Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida (UFF) said that SB 264 is unnecessary on grounds that students already have a way to comment on viewpoint issues in their classes.
“At the end of every semester, students are asked to evaluate their professors,” Lata said.
Also according to Lata, the results of such surveys may not accurately reflect the intellectual freedom on a particular campus.
“On campuses in other states, students who have an ax to grind tended to complete the surveys,” Lata said. “The majority of students just tossed them.”
If passed by the full State Senate, SB 264 would go into effect on July 1.
It is currently under consideration by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Education.