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Professor Association Blasts Florida’s “Unparalleled” Assault on Higher Education

Professor Association Blasts Florida’s “Unparalleled” Assault on Higher Education

Mother Jones

Isabela Diaz
May 24, 2023
On Wednesday, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis expected to announce he’s entering the 2024 presidential race in the evening, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) released a damning report on the state of higher education in the potential candidate’s home state. “Academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance in Florida’s public colleges and universities,” the association concluded, “face a politically and ideologically driven assault unparalleled in US history.” The “onslaught” led by DeSantis and the Republican-led legislature “threatens the very survival of meaningful higher education in the state, with dire implications for the entire country.”
A special committee established by the AAUP earlier this year interviewed more than 40 faculty members at several Florida institutions of higher education to “review an apparent pattern of politically, racially, and ideologically motivated attacks.” Interviewees described the reality in Florida as “Orwellian.”
“There is literally not a class I teach where I am not somehow violating policies and laws,” one tenured law professor said. Some reported that faculty of color or in the social sciences field are seeking to quit; other said candidates are turning down offers. The University of Florida’s Levin College of Law reportedly “can’t recruit anyone but white men.”
One self-identified conservative and devout Christian professor at the University of Florida sent an email to his colleagues that read: “Bottom line: Big Brother is watching. He is taking names. I’m on their ‘woke’ list! I’m the faculty advisor for the Federalist Society, for the Law School Republicans, and for the Christian Legal Society. If they find me threatening, the rest of you are dead in the water. Be wary and be aware. If I don’t have academic freedom, neither do you. If you don’t, neither do I. We are in this together.” Others interviewed spoke of the state as “a canary in a coal mine.”
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