Florida colleges vow to enforce civil discourse on campuses

Florida universities want free speech on campus. And state officials say they will hold protesters to account when they interfere with that.

At a meeting of the Florida Board of Governors State University Systemthe officials said that all public universities in the state have strategic plans to ensure civil discourse on all points of view.

University system governors are expressing optimism about progress, stressing the importance of keeping even controversial issues open for discussion on campus.

“We are not going to create a utopia, but a climate of civility and free expression,” he said. Tim Cerioa board member first appointed by the former governor. rick scott.

While each college has a plan in the works for cultivating a welcoming culture, only one school, New College of Florida, has reviewed and implemented a plan support free speech and commit to the principles of civil discourse.

Other schools are in several different stages of the process. Trustees of the University of North Florida approved a plan in April that has been endorsed by the College Senate and Student Government there. Meanwhile, the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida have already implemented student orientation programs, student codes of conduct, and employee policies and procedures to ensure consistency with the board’s directive on principles of freedom expression.

Other university leaders said efforts are underway to instill values ​​throughout the state university system to accommodate opposing viewpoints.

“Ideas are not bad. The ideas are not bad,” said the president of Florida International University. ken jesel. “It’s good to have those open dialogues.”

But some governors still expressed skepticism about whether the debate has properly occurred on school campuses or whether disruptive protests prevented it. jose olivea former speaker of the House of Representatives who now sits on the Board of Governors, said universities need to step in more often to stop protesters who cross the line.

“If a group of students is acting outside of the norms, the rules, and in some cases the local laws, then the university should take an active role in making sure those rules are followed,” Oliva said.

Protests have disrupted lectures on campuses across the country, and schools sometimes cancel speeches by controversial right-wing figures. For example, Pennsylvania State University recently canceled a speech by the founder of the Proud Boys Gavin McInnes Y University of California, Davis turned down a planned speech by the Turning Point USA podcaster Stephen Davis amid student protests.

Events with ben sasse, the newly hired president of the University of Florida, were disrupted by protests last year led by students angry at the former US senator’s voting record on LGBTQ rights. University repressed in subsequent protests.

Members of the Board of Governors said they don’t want protesters impeding free speech on Florida campuses.

alan levine, a member of the Board of Governors, said that listening to opposing views is a critical element of higher education. “Most people don’t know where they are when they’re surrounded by people who agree with them all the time,” she said. “Call it a disagreement. That’s learning.”

The implementation of plans that encourage civil discourse comes as Florida enforces a ban in teaching subjects like critical race theory at public universities and when Florida has faced allegations of stop the teachers to testify in court against state laws.

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