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Guestview: “Viewpoint Diversity” bill poses threat to quality education

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The University of West Florida (UWF) Faculty Senate has joined colleagues from across the state to oppose proposed state legislation purportedly aimed at “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity.” We believe this bill will, in fact, stifle students’ intellectual growth and weaken the rigorous debate and exchange that define American higher education.

Relatively short, Senate Bill 264 calls for each institution in the Florida system to survey its students, faculty, and staff in order to evaluate “the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented.” It also seeks to ensure that “members of the college community feel free to express their beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom.”

The bill also includes a clause allowing students to record class lectures and discussions without consent and publish that material to the internet. Recordings would, technically, be constrained by the federal laws that protect student information, so the bill appears to specifically target faculty, staff and invited guests.

Meeting recently, Florida’s Advisory Council of Faculty Senates (ACFS) passed a resolution strongly opposing the right to record provision as well as the intellectual diversity survey. “Both mandates,” it declares, would have the long-term impact of “undermin[ing] learning, ideological diversity, faculty recruitment, and university […]

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