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Florida Governor Signs Bill Requiring Belief Surveys Of Students And Faculty
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Florida Governor Signs Bill Requiring Belief Surveys Of Students And Faculty

Florida's governor has signed legislation requiring public colleges and universities to conduct annual surveys of their students and staff to support "intellectual diversity," with the schools potentially facing financial penalties based on the survey results.

According to the bill's language, the goal of House Bill 233, which was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Tuesday, is to "ensure" that students are exposed to "diverse ideas and opinions, including those with which they may disagree or find uncomfortable."

According to DeSantis, the state's institutions of higher learning have largely become "intellectually repressive environments," and that these surveys will help to change that.

“We want our universities to be focused on critical thinking and academic rigor, not as basically hotbeds for stale ideology,” he said at a press conference during the bill’s signing. “That’s not worth tax dollars, and it’s not something we’re going to support moving forward.”

The law makes no mention of financial consequences based on the survey's results, or what results would be considered problematic. DeSantis' office did not respond immediately to Stardia's request for clarification on his comments, and the bill makes no mention of whether the survey's responses will be kept anonymous.

The survey will be implemented by the Florida Department of Education or the State University System's Board of Governors, according to the law.

Renee’ Fargason, the communications director for the Board of Governors, told Stardia that the survey has not yet been developed and thus cannot provide specifics on what it may contain.

A spokesperson for the University of Florida in Gainesville told Stardia that the school values “a wide variety of opinions and independent inquiry and vigorous academic deliberation; we believe the survey will reflect that, and we look forward to widespread participation across campus.”

This new law, which takes effect on July 1, follows DeSantis' earlier this month ban on specific racist lessons and discussions in K-12 public schools, including educational lessons and discussions on the concept of critical race theory, which examines systemic racism in American institutions and policies, as well as “The 1619 Project,” a New York Times interdisciplinary project.

Last month, Texas also passed legislation effectively prohibiting public school teachers from discussing racism, white supremacy, or current events.

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