WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed legislation into law on Tuesday that requires students and faculty of public Florida universities to report their political views to the state starting this July. House Bill 233 requires university students and faculty to fill out a survey from the government about their political beliefs in what DeSantis has called an effort to monitor “intellectual diversity” on campus. Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson (R), echoing the governor’s sentiments, said that there was a “great risk” that the state’s universities had become “socialism factories.”
Democrats and university faculty have attempted to get answers from state Republicans on how these survey results will be used, as the bill provides no guarantees or protections against partisan targeting of campuses and staff and does not protect student confidentiality. The move to “diversify” campus speech comes just a few days after DeSantis publicly supported the banning of critical race theory and announced he would campaign against any school board members who promote teaching the history of racism in America to Florida students.
The legislation is one of many attempts to monitor and silence dissent that Florida Republicans have passed into law this year. In April, DeSantis signed House Bill 1 into law, an “anti-riot bill” that Democrats say will stifle First Amendment rights to protest and is purposely written broadly to allow police significant leeway to arrest and convict protestors.