Criticism of the University of Florida’s decision to bar three political science professors from testifying in a court case challenging Florida’s controversial Senate Bill 90 has been swift and forceful. Here is a round-up of opinion pieces in major newspapers addressing the university’s misguided actions.
By the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board
“Rest in peace, academic freedom, because the University of Florida has decided faculty members may speak their minds only when it’s in the best interests of the Gators and the governor.
“In effect, that means no university-sanctioned criticism of state government, its laws or the GOP leaders who make them.”
“The University of Florida’s reputation as an institution that values truth is going to sustain lasting damage if it doesn’t reverse this disastrous decision to silence its professors because of politics.”
By the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board
“By any reasonable definition, “academic freedom” should mean that University of Florida professors could testify in a voting rights court case in which they are, quite literally, experts. They have the First Amendment right to do so, and they should have the academic freedom to do so, too. It makes sense. But in Florida things don’t always make sense these days.”
“It’s not hard to guess what’s going on, a combination of political pressure and some state funding hanging in the balance.”
By Linda Neider, Jonel Newman and Helen Bramlett.
“When faculty members see other members of our profession being denied their First Amendment rights and rights to academic freedom, it casts a pall over our own professional work and has a chilling effect on our engagement with the larger community.
“When the public sees such actions, it justifiably undermines public confidence in the integrity of universities as places of scholarship, learning and truth-seeking.”
By Greg Sargent
“The DeSantis angle here is potentially very troubling. DeSantis, it turns out, has top allies at the university, such as Morteza Hosseini, who is both head of the university’s board of trustees and a big GOP donor and close DeSantis adviser.”
“With conservatives regularly railing against allegedly rampant liberal censoriousness on college campuses, how Republicans and their media allies approach this should prove instructive. Fox News will be all over this, right?”