FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 7, 2023
Logan Elizabeth Padgett
NEW JMI REPORT EXAMINES AND RANKS FREE SPEECH ON FLORIDA’S COLLEGE CAMPUSES
A new report by The James Madison Institute, “Improving Campus Culture: Florida Higher Ed is Facing Challenges,” builds upon JMI’s 2017 and 2020 reports and measures how much progress our state universities are making in promoting free expression and viewpoint diversity. The report also identifies “next steps” that would help Florida’s universities continue their rise to national prominence as beacons of intellectual freedom and academic excellence.
Concerns about campus free expression and viewpoint diversity have been growing in recent years. In 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law that would require the state university system to conduct an “objective, nonpartisan, and statistically valid annual survey” to help assess “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” at Florida schools. Scholars at Florida’s major research universities should have embraced this survey, especially since free expression and viewpoint diversity are so central to the mission of higher education. But the United Faculty of Florida union made a concerted effort to thwart the research and discredit the survey.
“Absent a major movement within the academy to challenge the intransigence of the faculty union, the only recourse available to Florida citizens who care about free expression and viewpoint diversity will be to work through their elected officials and appointed boards that oversee higher education in our state,” said William Mattox, director of the J. Stanley Marshall Center for Educational Options at The James Madison Institute.
“Florida’s higher education policymakers appear to be following a pattern – that is now well-
established in K-12 education – whereby reformers do not allow unreasonable (and self-
interested) union opposition to get in the way of much-needed changes to improve student
opportunities and outcomes,” Mattox added.
Click here to read “Improving Campus Culture: Florida Higher Ed is Facing Challenges.”
The James Madison Institute is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the ideals of limited government, economic freedom, federalism and individual liberty coupled with individual responsibility. The institute conducts research on such issues as criminal justice, health care, taxes and regulatory environments.