Florida bill would allow a student to record college professors to use as evidence of political bias

A new bill in Florida would allow a student to record their college professors’ lectures to use as evidence of political bias.

The bill, currently awaiting the signature of Florida governor Ron DeSantis, would allow students to record their professors’ lectures without their consent, and present them as evidence of political bias. The bill specifies that the recordings, whether video or audio, are for students’ “own personal educational use, in connection with a complaint to the public institution of higher education where the recording was made, or as evidence in, or in preparation for, a criminal or civil proceeding.” The legislation prohibits the lecture recordings from being published publicly without the consent of the professor. The bill would also require that all 40 state-funded colleges in Florida would also be required to conduct an “annual assessment of the intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” at their institutions.

Florida’s Board of Education would create an “objective, nonpartisan, and statistically valid survey” that considers “the extent of which competing ideas and perspectives are presented and members of the college community, including students, faculty, and staff, feel free to express their beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom.” Beginning September 1, 2022, the Florida Board of Education will compile and publish the results annually. Colleges and universities will be required to create a code of conduct that will punish student organizations when they break the rules. All the material documented by students would be compiled in a survey that the Board of Governors, who oversee the university system, publishes annually.

“If the results came back and showed that there was a lack of intellectual freedom or a lack of viewpoint diversity, my hope would be that the governing body of the institution would recognize that and find that unacceptable and announce what their plan is to address that,” Republican Senator Ray Rodrigues told FloridaPolitics.com in an interview earlier this month. Republican Congressman Spencer Roach, the bill’s author, twitter after it passed the Florida Senate, “Freedom of speech is an inalienable right, despite what Marxist professors and students think.” The bill’s push through the Florida government comes as many in conservative circles claim their speech is being limited on college campuses.

According to the Florida Federation of College Republicans, nine public universities in Florida adopted policies that restrict protected expression, “It’s very upsetting that the silent conservative has to exist on a campus,” said Stephanie Torres, the chairwoman of the organization told the Associated Press. Democratic Senator Tine Polsky wondered if the legislation might open the floodgates for extreme hate groups to enter colleges. “You just can’t practice in absolutes and say that every single person is welcome on campus, because they’re not,” Polsky told The AP. “This is meant to be a safe place for students.”





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