FIRE statement on Governor DeSantis’ higher education proposals – Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
FIRE urges Florida lawmakers to remember that the First Amendment protects Americans of all political backgrounds by setting crucial limits on the power that politicians may wield within higher education. As FIRE has made clear in our ongoing litigation against Florida’s Stop WOKE Act, lawmakers cannot ban ideas from college classrooms.
On Prohibiting DEI Statements
Our public colleges and universities must remain havens for intellectual freedom. For years, FIRE has fought the imposition of de facto ideological loyalty oaths on university students and faculty nationwide. As the Supreme Court of the United States made clear more than a half-century ago, restricting who may teach and learn on the basis of political viewpoint runs counter to the animating purpose of our public colleges and universities. To that end, FIRE supports prohibiting the use of all political litmus tests in admissions, hiring, and promotions. We caution that efforts to eliminate loyalty oaths must be careful not to trade one orthodoxy for another, and we await further details on the proposal.
On New Personnel Powers for Public University Presidents
Giving university presidents expansive power over hiring, firing, and post-tenure review jeopardizes academic freedom. The more power that one individual has to call the shots on campus, the easier it is for political forces — be they donors, politicians, students, or activists — to dictate the range of acceptable ideas and voices. Administrators with more authority will be pressured to use that authority in ways that today’s political climate cannot forecast.
As always, FIRE stands ready to work with lawmakers across the political spectrum to ensure that our nation’s campuses are free from censorship and indoctrination. Higher education is in desperate need of innovation and experimentation, but any such attempts must not endanger student and faculty rights.
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