Anti-conservative sentiment in Florida colleges survey results announced

Gainesville—What they worried about was anti-conservative sentiment on college campuses. Governor Ron DeSantis Florida legislators have ordered a survey of nearly 2 million students, faculty and staff statewide.

I got results, but they weren’t what I expected.

Most responding faculty, faculty, and administrators described themselves as politically moderate, with many describing themselves as more conservative than liberal. Few agreed that espousing a particular political view would help them get a promotion or tenure. Also, more people agreed than agreed that the campus was equally tolerant of liberal and conservative ideas and beliefs.

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Because very few students responded to the survey, less than 1% of the more than 1.7 million students, the responses collected by the state were not statistically significant.

Almost 120,000 teachers, educational staff, and nearly 10% of administrators responded, despite state teacher unions encouraging them not to participate. This is generally considered sufficient to draw conclusions among research professionals. Other factors, such as whether faculty responded consistently, or whether faculty from different universities gave different responses, could affect the survey’s perceived reliability or its statistical significance. .

The study cost about $6,500 and was sent to all 12 colleges and 28 colleges statewide, according to state agencies.

Investigation will be conducted as a Florida classroom under rigorous scrutiny

The survey was rolled out by conservative Republicans concerned about what is being taught in Florida’s classrooms amid a renewed focus on education, including higher education. and prohibited professors from claiming that systemic racism exists in the classroom. The law that created the new political inquiry also allows students to secretly record professors for the purpose of filing free speech complaints against them.

At the University of Florida, which temporarily barred professors from testifying on behalf of plaintiffs in a lawsuit against DeSantis, a conservative Republican senator from Nebraska Selected as the only finalist To become the next president of the school. Senator Ben Sasse said he plans to visit campus again on November 1. Hundreds of student protesters pushed him off the stage when he appeared at school earlier this week.

The next political ideology survey will be conducted in about six months. Under a law passed by the Republican-led Congress and signed into law by DeSantis last year, it requires students and faculty to exercise political bias in college classrooms and will continue to be required annually. So far, there are no legal requirements for students or civil servants to participate. Surveys completed online do not ask participants to identify themselves.

Republicans like North Fort Myers Rep. Spencer Roach, who backed the House bill, said they suspect left-leaning professors may be intolerant of conservative students. Stated. Roach told him last year that a college student, whom he refused to name, was academically punished for disagreeing with a professor.

“Many conservative or right-wing students feel compelled to remain silent in many classes because their grades suffer or they are looked down upon by their fellow students,” says Andrew, a 22-year-old businessman. Davis said he is a Master of Business Administration student at the University of South Florida and a member of the University Republican Party there. “I think it’s really worrying. It’s an important goal that the administration is pursuing.”

Roach said responses to the initial survey showed promising data and there was no reason to be alarmed. He said future surveys should be distributed in more ways to encourage participation, and some questions should be restated for greater brevity.

Poor timing was also one of the reasons students did not participate in the first-year survey. The survey was sent out at the end of the semester when many students were studying for their final exams. For example, at Florida A&M University, only 53 out of 8,393 students responded to the survey. At Florida International University, only 413 out of 49,477 graduated.

What the survey asked students and professors

The survey found that students said, “My professor or course instructor uses class time to express his or her social or political beliefs without objectively discussing opposing social or political beliefs.” I was asked questions such as whether I agree or disagree with the statement.

A longer 24-question version for faculty asked respondents if they agreed with the following statement: Tolerant and welcoming of both liberal and conservative ideas and beliefs. ”

I also asked professors where they would rank themselves on a scale of “conservative, moderate, liberal, or neither.” Instead of asking the students that question, I asked them if the professor was conservative or liberal.

The survey was intended to show higher education administrators whether campuses are open to intellectual diversity, Roach, the lawmaker who sponsored the idea, said. Acting to intervene by lawmakers in Tallahassee would be a last resort, he said.

The union urged teachers to ignore the investigation

The Union of Florida Universities, a union representing professors at public universities, advised faculty to ignore this year’s survey. Unions complained about what they described as key questions and a lack of security. It said it had no outside third party to ensure the information remained private and anonymous.

Richard Conley, an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida, said he did not participate in the survey as a conservative.

“I wouldn’t fill out that survey because it would probably be a career killer,” he said. “You don’t know where this information is going.”

A group of professors, including Santa Fe College’s David Price, sued the state’s board of education and board of trustees (which oversee colleges and universities) in federal court to stop the investigation. In an interview, Mr. Price said the state legislature is “totally insane” with the burden it places on Florida’s higher education.

Their lawsuit said the law “was enacted as a clear message that anyone who propagates an opinion with which the governor disagrees is endangering funds.”

Judge Mark Walker of the U.S. District Court in Tallahassee rejected a request to block the first round of the investigation in March, saying the professor did not show “immediate and irreparable injury.” In the future, he said, he could force the state of Florida to stop the survey and destroy any responses it had already collected.

Lawyers preparing the lawsuit said earlier this month that the judge had questioned under oath at least eight state legislators, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, and two other senior counsel in his office. Told.

Roach, the author of the bill, said he would not testify because the subpoena was improperly served in the case. Senators Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) and Senator Ray Rodriguez (R-Fort Myers) also declined to testify, citing legislative privilege. Cruz opposed the bill. Rodriguez sponsored it.

Rodriguez, who also co-sponsored a Senate bill that would require tenure reviews, was named last month president of the state university system, which oversees all of Florida’s public universities. Through his aide, he declined to discuss his views on higher education policy.

Attorneys for the state government have asked the judge to block any attempt to remove Richard Corcoran, former Speaker of the House and former school commissioner who is now on the board of the state university system. The case is scheduled to go to trial in January.

The professors’ union said it was pleased that very few people responded to the survey.

“The low number of participants shows that this narrative being promoted by Governor DeSantis and his supporters – the indoctrination in higher education – is completely hoaxed,” said group president Andrew Gossard. said. “If students and communities were genuinely concerned that this was actually happening, no amount of boycott support we could have done would have stopped them.”

Samuel Staley, a professor at Florida State University and director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center for public policy research, said the study could not help being politicized.

“Once it was introduced as part of a statute and the board was tasked with implementing and designing it, it quickly became political football,” he said.

Staley, a libertarian who advises students on campus for the conservative group Turning Point USA, believed the survey was a sincere attempt to address student self-censorship at Florida colleges. I have responded to this survey. After considering the question, he predicted nothing legitimate from the project. He was one of his 1,125 of his 14,633 FSU employees who participated.

Student response rates are so low that “the results are almost useless,” Staley said.

This article was produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. Reporters can contact her at Anti-conservative sentiment in Florida colleges survey results announced

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