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Clay Calvert Comments on Possible Repercussions from New Florida Law Requiring “Viewpoint Diversity” Surveys for College Students

Clay Calvert, director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project and Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, is quoted in “DeSantis Says New Law Promotes Speech at Florida Colleges. Critics Fear a ‘Chilling Effect’” published in the Orlando Sentinel on July 1.

The article focuses on the new Florida law mandating surveys about viewpoint and ideological diversity at public universities in the state.

According to Calvert, instructors may fear repercussions if they discuss ideas their students and colleagues might disagree with.

Clay Calvert

“The safe course would be for professors to avoid controversial viewpoints altogether, which is not a good thing. While the law requires universities and colleges to administer surveys, it does not require employees and students to take them,” Calvert said. “That could result in a small number of aggrieved people completing the questionnaires, creating a distorted picture of the campus climate.”

Calvert said he sees a connection between the “viewpoint diversity” legislation and others affecting free speech this year, including new laws aimed at cracking down on technology companies that try to ban politicians and others who spread misinformation and an “anti-riot” bill that increases law enforcement’s ability to penalize protestors.

“I think a lot of them probably are motivated by politics and ultimately, the larger question is, is this positioning Gov. DeSantis for a run for president in 2024 because certainly, all of this legislation will appeal to conservatives,” he said.

Posted: July 2, 2021
Category: College News, Diversity News, Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project News
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