State university system works with FSU’s political institute to develop survey on “intellectual diversity”

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The State University System is currently working with policy researchers to develop the controversial Florida “intellectual diversity” survey.

Chancellor of the State University System Marshall Criser told the House Subcommittee on Post-Secondary Education and Lifelong Learning on Wednesday that the system was working with the Institute of Politics at Florida State University to develop the investigation. The Republican-led legislature, with Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ blessing, mandated the creation of this survey earlier this year in a bill (HB 233) to protect “intellectual freedom and diversity of views” on college campuses.

The legislator established the Institute of Policy last year as part of a broader higher education package.

“We saw it as a potential resource for us to work in developing the investigative mechanism,” Criser said.

After designing the survey, the next step will be to determine how to deliver it to students, staff and faculty.

Criser, who is the former president of AT&T Florida, compared his vision for the investigation to what companies might conceive of.

“If a company wanted to know more about its customers and employees, then you would want to ask questions that would ultimately allow you to assess and understand where you had opportunities for improvement, where you could compare yourself. to your competition, ”Criser said.

The university system is also in talks with the Florida College System about streamlining their approaches.

Democrats, who opposed the measure in the 2021 session, remained silent on the issue at Wednesday’s committee meeting. Only Rep. Jim mooney, an Islamorada Republican, inquired further about the investigation.

The Institute of Politics and Criser staff are well versed in data and data analysis, and are familiar with investigative work. The institute helps determine the size and quantity of questions, and how to ask them.

“We’re trying to figure out what the right questions are and what is the right approach,” Criser said.

The Institute of Politics is hosted by the FSU College of Social Sciences and Public Policy. According to the university, the non-partisan academic center offers applied research by political academics and curriculum initiatives aimed at celebrating democracy and encouraging civic engagement.

Guest speakers at events within a year of the institute’s history included West Virginia Sen. Joe manchin and former Florida Senator and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Mel Martinez.

DeSantis signed the measure on intellectual diversity in June as part of a trio of education bills addressing civic education.

The controversial law demands that the Board of Education and the State Board of Governors annually review the perspectives of college and university professors “to assess the state of intellectual freedom and diversity of viewpoints “. It also prohibits schools from protecting students, staff and teachers from certain speeches, namely speeches of particular ideologies.

Under the bill, which was passed despite opposition from most Democrats and a pair of Republicans, school management cannot “protect” students from the freedom of speech protected by the former. amendment. They could not limit students’ access to ideas and opinions that they might find uncomfortable, intrusive, unpleasant or offensive.

At the heart of the governor’s call for strengthening civic understanding is critical thinking and debate, which he says has become a lost art. Students head to college campuses and come back “brainwashed,” said DeSantis, a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School.

“We don’t want them to be essentially hotbeds of outdated ideology,” he added. “It’s not worth taxpayer dollars, and it’s not something we’re going to support in the future.”


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