Florida bill requires intellectual diversity survey for public university students

Florida lawmakers are working to get legislation passed that would require Florida public university students to complete a survey annually related to intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity.

“If you look at faculty unions across the state, they embrace diversity in every area except intellectual diversity,” said State Rep. Ray Rodrigues (Fla-R) of Estero. “Why is that?”

Rodrigues, who represents Florida’s 76th state house district, is one of the lawmakers sponsoring bill HB 839, which was filed in February 2019. He said the survey would be “objective, nonpartisan and statistically valid.”

We spoke to FGCU student Blake Frey who does not support the survey

“I wouldn’t fill it in,” Frey said. “If public colleges ask our personal information, it can result in discrimination.”

FSU professor Matthew Lata shares similar worries.

“Who would create the survey? How would the information be used? Who would evaluate it?” Lata asks. “If the results of the survey were not to the legislature’s liking, would faculty be hired and fired based on their political beliefs, to change and adjust the political balance?”

FGCU student Diana Glavinskas told me she thinks the survey would take away from students personal beliefs.

“I don’t think there’s enough information about the test that we can really be sure how effective it will be in the long run,” Glavinskas said.

The bill has a long process to go through. The proposal must be reviewed and accepted by two more committees before lawmakers would consider it during the 2020 legislative session.

“The statement we are making here is that we don’t know,” Rodrigues said. “But we should know if there is intellectual diversity, which is why this is in the bill.”

MORE: House Bill 836, filed during Florida’s 2019 legislative session

Reporter:Michelle Mackonochie
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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