Professor: Survey asks students to ‘tattle’ on faculty

Education

(NewsNation) — An education professor testified that a Florida law requiring universities to survey students about their professors’ political views was asking students to play “tattletale” on faculty.

UCLA professor Sylvia Hurtado testified in a trial on Florida’s intellectual freedom law. Passed in 2021, the law requires universities and colleges to survey students and staff on “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity.”

The law mandated the State Board of Education and the university system’s Board of Governors develop a survey designed to measure how prevalent competing views are on a campus as well as how free students and staff feel about expressing opinions.

Supporters of the legislation, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, said it was designed to protect free speech and stem what backers referred to as indoctrination on college campuses.

The United Faculty of Florida union, individual staff and students sued on the grounds that the law is designed to limit 1st and 14th amendment rights. They claim the law is discriminatory and would actually discourage free speech.

Hurtado testified in court that the survey was poorly designed and could not effectively measure diversity of viewpoints, in part because it offered limited options for characterizing political views.

The survey only gave the option of classifying views as liberal, conservative, moderate or other.

In addition to the survey, plaintiffs are also challenging a portion of the law that allows students to record lectures without the instructor’s consent and one that prohibits faculty from “shielding” students from material that might be “uncomfortable or offensive.”

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