A union representing faculty at Florida’s state universities is discouraging members from participating in a survey meant to suss out the political leanings of students and employees and the political climate on their campuses.
The measure passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed into law last year by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis requires public universities to conduct an annual assessment of viewpoints and freedom of expression on campuses. The Board of Governors and State Board of Education will be required to compile and publish the results.
The proposal also mandates that students be exposed to a variety of political viewpoints and that they not be “shielded” from those arguments. Supporters of the legislation accused universities of drowning out conservative student voices.
A federal judge last week denied an emergency request to stop the survey, though opponents can still file an appeal.
In a letter to its members, the United Faculty of Florida urged faculty, staff and students to ignore the survey, saying it would create a chilling effect on free speech and freedom of association on campuses.
“Florida’s government has no right to know the thoughts, feelings, or political or religious beliefs of anyone, including the higher education community,” the letter said. “Privacy is the bedrock of democracy and a safeguard against autocratic control.”
The union says that while the surveys are supposed to be anonymous, faculty members can be identified and targeted through questions about their demographic background and where they work.
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.