Florida universities, colleges asking students & staff whether their campuses are politically biased

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida college and university students and staff are being asked if they believe they’re being censored on campus.

It’s part of a new optional survey sent out early Monday morning.

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Universities are supposed to be places where ideas and viewpoints can be freely expressed and debated, but state Rep. Spencer Roach (R-Fort Myers) fears that may not always be the case.

“Students with more conservative-leaning views feel like the overwhelming majority of academia are left or far-left and particularly the faculty, and that they’ve been penalized for this,” said Roach.

Roach sponsored legislation last year that requires colleges and universities to conduct an annual survey of students and staff to ask whether intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity are alive and well on campus.

Roach told us the goal of this survey is to gauge whether college and university campuses are biased one way or the other.

The United Faculty of Florida has opposed the survey and has asked faculty not to participate.

“Faculty do not welcome the interference of an explicitly partisan survey that infringes on our privacy and civil liberties,” said UNF chapter President Nicholas de Villers in an emailed statement.

Despite the union suing to block the survey, a federal judge allowed for the survey to be administered Monday.

“We’re not even saying that anyone has to fill it out,” said Roach.

We obtained a copy of the 21-question survey emailed to students and faculty.

It asks students whether they feel they can freely express their political opinions on campus, whether they believe their professors are more liberal or conservative, and whether they believe their campus is more tolerant of conservative or liberal viewpoints.

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Alec Gomer, a post-grad health major at UNF, told us he feels like professors are doing a good job of keeping their personal politics out of instruction.

“Nobody has outwardly expressed any emotions greater towards one side or the other,” said Gomer.

UNF freshman Gianna Pierr-Louis said she feels like the campus is tolerant of a wide array of viewpoints.

“Whichever side you choose, they’re going to not only accept what you choose, but also open you to other sides of things and I feel like that’s what’s good about campus,” said Pierr-Lewis.

Schools will have to report the results of the survey to the Florida Legislature by Sept. 1.

UFF’s lawsuit is still ongoing, and a trial has been set for Sept. 19.