What happened? Almost no FL university students responded to a new “intellectual freedom” survey
Students walk in between class periods on campus at the University of Florida in Gainesville on Wednesday, September 22, 2021. (Rachael Gregory/Fresh Take Florida)

092221 Budget Update RG 04 (Large)
Since its inception in the legislature, the survey has been criticized as a means for Republican lawmakers to cast Florida universities and colleges as liberal bastions.

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.

That’s only a 2.4 response rate, according to draft survey results posted on the website of the Board of Governors, which oversees the statewide university system.

The draft results were published in preparation to discuss findings at a BOG meeting on Friday, but the very low response rate raises questions about whether officials can glean enough information from the already contentious questionnaire.

The intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity survey is a result of legislation passed during the 2021 legislative session, with the goal of selecting “an objective, nonpartisan, and statistically valid survey to be used by each state university which considers the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented and members of the university community, including students, faculty, and staff, feel free to express their beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom.”

The state’s community college system was also surveyed. The Phoenix reached out to the Florida Department of Education, which oversees state colleges, to find out if there are results for those schools, but the agency hasn’t responded.

According to the draft results, only 8,835 students from Florida’s 12 state universities did the survey, out of 368,120 students who received it. That led to a 2.4 percent response rate.

The survey responses were collected from April 4 through April 8 this past spring. There were two versions of the survey, one for students and one for employees, which included faculty and staff.

Some schools had a higher response rate than others.

For example, at New College of Florida in Sarasota, 141 students responded out of 636 total students contacted, resulting in a 12.1 percent response rate from students.

Florida Polytechnic University, in Lakeland, in Polk County, also had a 12.1 response rate among students, with 171 students submitting the survey out of 1,411 total.

The lowest student response rate was at Florida A&M University, a historically Black college in Tallahassee, where 53 students responded out of 8,393 surveys provided. That’s a 0.6 percent response rate. Also in Tallahassee, Florida State University posted a low response rate of 1.8 percent out of 43,936 students who received the survey.

The next lowest response rate goes to Florida International University, in Miami, with only 413 students out of 49,477 students responding to the survey, resulting in a 0.8 response rate.

Since its inception in the legislature, the survey has long been criticized as a means for Republican lawmakers to cast Florida universities and colleges as liberal bastions and claim that conservative voices are being suppressed, the Phoenix previously reported.

And when the surveys were released in April, the Phoenix found that people who were not university students, faculty or staff could easily gain access to the surveys if someone sent them the link, raising questions on the security and validity of the survey.

Determining a valuable response rate for a survey is tricky, according to various online survey sites.

SmartSurvey, an online survey site, says that there are a “lot of factors that can affect response rates, from the survey distribution method that is used and whether it’s an external or internal survey, to how strong your relationship is with your respondents before issuing the survey.”

It adds: “However, more generally and irrespective of your survey type, typical survey response rates can lie anywhere in the region between the 5% to 30% range, with those surveys distributed from unknown senders tending to be at the lower end of this scale.”

SurveyMonkey, the program that the Board of Governors used for the survey, did not provide a range to help determine a worthwhile response rate, only saying that effective response rates “can be as high as 20% to 30% (emphasis in context).”

Of the 2.4 percent of university students who responded to the questions, most of the responses seem to be either neutral or supportive of how universities navigate so-called “viewpoint diversity,” the draft data suggests, though the results also indicate a smaller population of student respondents who believe university campuses are more tolerant of liberal ideas than conservative ones.

On the other hand, professors and staff had a higher rate of responses to the survey, the draft results show.

Out of 98,704 total university employees who received surveys, 9,238 responded, resulting in a 9.4 percent response rate.

The draft results show that 4,336 respondents self-identified as staff, 1,666 identified as faculty with a continuing contract or tenure, 1,308 identified as an administrator, and 1,154 identified as faculty without tenure or a continuing contract. There were 551 respondents who identified as “other” and 223 who did not provide a response.

The highest response rate among university professors and employees was at Florida Polytechnic University, with a 21.6 response rate. That’s 101 employees out of 468.

The lowest employee response rates were at Florida A&M University and University of North Florida, of Jacksonville, both with a 6 percent. For FAMU, that’s 140 employees out of 2,323. And for UNF, that’s 255 employees out of 4,249 contacted for the survey.

Florida Phoenix

Florida Phoenix is a news and opinion outlet focused on government and political news coverage within the state of Florida.


  • Jay Smif

    August 27, 2022 at 10:45 am

    The replies should have been “DeSantis can stick this survey up his pudgy, fascist arse.”

    This is the deep state at work, conservatives, and it’s un-American as shit.

    • Paul Passarelli

      August 28, 2022 at 9:21 am

      Spoken like a Leftist overseer. That’s exactly the response most Leftists would probably like to give. But can a supposedly educated person demonstrate that level of hostility and claim to be enlightened?

      How can you call a survey unamerican? Isn’t that the purest form of information gathering? Ask questions of a group and allow them to answer freely & anonymously?

      The only people who see a survey as intimidating are those that are in the habit of controlling information i.e. slavers, overlords, tyrannical rulers, oppressors, etc. Tell me again why the Democrats oppose the survey?

      • Jim R

        August 29, 2022 at 3:12 pm

        You truly are brainwashed, Paul. That’s a ridiculous response.

        Republicans sent the survey, but liberals are “leftist overseers.”

        The Republicans are the authoritarians here, Paul. DeSantis is even removing elected officials without cause or due process.

        You’re the Nazi, Paul.

        • Paul Passarelli

          August 29, 2022 at 8:21 pm

          Sticks & Stones may break by bones, but names will never hurt me.

          And since you were trying to be hurtful, all I can say is that you FAILED spectacularly.

  • Paul Passarelli

    August 27, 2022 at 11:11 am

    I’m willing to bet that Progressive-Socialist professors *strongly discouraged* their students from completing the survey. Possibly even threatening their grades, if they learned that the students answered the questionnaire.

    Is the survey still available? Is it available to the general public? Are the results being published?

    Surveys are powerful tools. They are also potent weapons. And they can also be destructive devices is they are abused or tampered with.

    We need transparency in this — we need full disclosure, and we probably also need an investigation into how the survey was delivered.

    I fully expect my comments to be attacked from the Left.

    • Jim R

      August 29, 2022 at 3:14 pm

      You should expect that rational people will disagree with your speculation, as you provide no evidence, cannot provide any evidence, and you can’t even explain how faculty members can even know if a student filled out the survey or not. Faculty members don’t have that kind of administrative access, and the survey was conducted by a third party, SurveyMonkey.

      You’re a liar, Paul. I’m not saying this because I’m a leftist, but because you’re a liar.

      You’re the Nazi, Paul.

  • Jerry

    August 27, 2022 at 11:55 am

    Anyone who tells me universities aren’t liberal bastions, I’ll laugh right in their face. Have you been to a college campus? They don’t even support free speech or free expression anymore if you step outside left wing politics. Over 90% of college professors vote for Democrats religiously. Conservative groups are intimidated or out right banned. The left won’t even allow conservative speakers on campus. They start protesting and pulling fire alarms. Dissenting opinions are not permitted in the new liberal world order. There is no diversity in the teaching. Only one view is permitted.

    And kids are coming out dumber and more entitled than ever. They spend the whole time partying, being indoctrinated, or trying to figure out their gender. They will do this while racking up $100,000 in debt that they will demand the taxpayers pay off for them. Because they won’t be able to find a woke employer to pay them enough for their garbage degree. Gone are the days of actually teaching kids how to think critically, challenge the prevailing winds, and think for themselves outside the box.

    • Jim R

      August 29, 2022 at 3:16 pm

      You’re spreading uninformed disinformation, Paul.

      Go to the Bureau of Education Statistics.

      Most students are in Business or Criminal Justice. A big chunk after that are in medical sciences.

      Yeah, all those business and law enforcement faculty are raging liberals.


      Don’t be an idiot, Paul

      • Paul Passarelli

        September 9, 2022 at 3:40 pm

        I find it amusing that the only thing you did was to insult me and ask empty, not even rhetorical, questions.

        The Left is going down, hoist on its own petard.

        BTW: Lee (below) is correct, Jerry nailed it.

    • Lee

      September 9, 2022 at 8:36 am

      Jerry, you sure got this right!

  • PeterH

    August 27, 2022 at 9:28 pm

    Let College Students think for themselves. That’s what colleges are all about.

    The Florida legislature should stay laser focused on hiring 9000 elementary and secondary school teachers instead of turning their back on children. Florida is identical to the failed red state of Arizona ……both are hiring college dropouts to fill school vacancies.

    Lacking a comprehensive elementary and secondary Florida education…… Florida students won’t be going to college.

    • chuck conly

      August 28, 2022 at 8:31 pm

      Any thinking person wouldn’t hire communist, indoctrinated, snowflakes to teach their children. Look for experiencd teachers. Preferably vets. Those coming out of these liberal colleges know nothing but the fantasy world of Academia.

      • Jim R

        August 29, 2022 at 3:17 pm

        You’re another idiot conservative who repeats what he’s told but can’t provide any evidence of it, Chuck.

        Back up your claims or shut up, Chuck.

        You’re the Nazi, Chucky.

  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    August 28, 2022 at 8:21 am

    I’m betting people were afraid to return them because of repercussions from the leftists

    • Jim R

      August 29, 2022 at 3:19 pm

      Can you explain to me

      1. who these leftists are?
      2. how they could possibly know who filled out the survey, and how they were filled out, when the survey was run by an independent, for-profit company, SurveyMonkey?
      3. and what these repercussions could possibly be?

      You’re can’t answer any of those questions. You’re just brainwashed or making stuff up.

  • Paul Passarelli

    August 29, 2022 at 6:19 pm

    I’m going to answer the 2nd question because #1 & #3 are trivial.
    How could a professor know if his students participated in a survey?

    It depends on a few things, but if the survey is well constructed then reading the questions will necessarily impart a degree of ‘knowledge’ to the survey taker. If I ask you a detailed question about “Grey Elephants” you will necessarily bring the imagery of pachyderms and their skin colour & texture into your consciousness. The persistence of this imagery may be fleeting or more durable.

    If I’m the professor and I wish to ascertain if you have taken a survey I have instructed you to ignore, all I need to do is to initiate a dialog that contains knowledge that you would only have been recently exposed to by virtue of having taken the survey.

    Because I know what I’m looking for and you do not, I can ask subtly questions and observe for subtle responses. While I might not be able to conclude to a court of law’s criteria for beyond a reasonable doubt, I can reach a preponderance of the evidence conclusion that you did or did not obey my admonition.

    You are welcome to try to dispute my assertions. Of course if the survey was just a few meaningless questions, then I probably could not measure my students reactions to follow-up questions. But that’s would be a very blunt tool even as SurveyMonkey surveys go.

    The more probing the survey is, the more knowledge it tends to expose, and the easier testing for that knowledge becomes.

  • Paul Passarelli

    August 29, 2022 at 6:50 pm

    I’m fine with rational people disagreeing with me if the facts support it.

    As for my speculation, I can explain, I didn’t here for reasons of time, but have since described the methods I would use to make such a determination ***IF* I were ever so foolish to prohibits someone else from doing something like taking a survey.

    BTW: It does not require admin access or privilege, it only require intelligence which is why it is beyond your ability to grasp.

    And so you resort yo name calling proving my assertion that you lack actual intelligence.

    P.S. “I swear under penalty of perjury that the statements I have just made are true to the best of my knowledge & abilities.”

Comments are closed.


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