Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is constantly coming up with a variety of plans, executive orders and bits of legislation that seem to be at least partially aimed at “owning the libs.” I can appreciate that. The man has a lot on his plate and some suspect he has bigger things in mind for the future. But his latest announcement involving the public colleges and universities in the Sunshine State seems a bit much even to me. He just signed legislation that would require students, faculty and staff at all of those schools that receive taxpayer funding to complete surveys “registering their political views.” This is supposedly being done to “encourage intellectual diversity” on campus and end the boycotting of conservative views and principles. Let’s just say that I see some problems down the road with this plan. (Raw Story)
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation requiring students, faculty and staff at Florida’s public universities and colleges to register their political views with the state as a way to encourage “intellectual diversity.”
The state will require taxpayer-funded colleges and universities to issue surveys to determine “the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented” on campus and whether students, faculty and staff “feel free to express [their] beliefs and viewpoints,” although it’s not clear what will be done with the poll results, reported the Tampa Bay Times.
“It used to be thought that a university campus was a place where you’d be exposed to a lot of different ideas,” DeSantis said, justifying the legislation. “Unfortunately, now the norm is, these are more intellectually repressive environments. You have orthodoxies that are promoted, and other viewpoints are shunned or even suppressed.”
DeSantis also signed bills that would allow students to record lectures and later use the recordings in civil suits if required and prevent schools from banning speech that may be uncomfortable or offensive. But I really just wanted to focus on this survey idea today.
Right out of the gate, this law looks like it’s heading for rocky waters in terms of constitutionality. Citizens all have the right to free speech, but that includes not speaking if you don’t wish to. And demanding that all of the staff and the students “confess” to some sort of political ideology classification should almost certainly be struck down. Would you approve of a mandatory survey that made everyone declare their religion? (I’m sure all of the Jewish students would just be wild about the idea of a list like that floating around somewhere.)
And where will this survey come from? One of the Governor’s spokespeople said that the survey would be “selected or created by the state university system’s Board of Governors and the State Board of Education.” In other words, the survey doesn’t even exist yet and you’ve got a law on the books making it mandatory? I don’t see how anything could possibly go wrong here. (/sarc)
Even if this was somehow doable, asking people for their “political views” isn’t the same as checking somebody’s blood type. How many choices will be offered for each question? If you tell someone to check a box for either liberal or conservative, they could fall anywhere on a wide scale. Adding in libertarian doesn’t help because I know plenty of people who view some issues from one side and others from the opposite end of the spectrum. Heck, I couldn’t even classify myself in some cases.
Just to game this out fully, let’s just assume that this law stands up and a mandatory survey is created. What is that going to do to promote intellectual diversity? Even if everyone filled it out honestly (which is hardly a given), you’re going to find out that three-quarters of the students are liberals and basically 100% of the professors and administrators are. We already knew that. What incentive does the existence of the survey provide to be less discriminatory toward conservative students or instructors?
I can appreciate DeSantis’s willingness to attempt to address a very real issue here. Taxpayer-funded colleges and universities acting as incubators for socialist brainwashing programs are a serious problem. And no, I don’t have a workable solution for it off the top of my head. But this doesn’t sound practical and will likely just result in a string of endless lawsuits. I think this bill really could have used another pass or five before a pen was put to it.
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