Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office on Wednesday responded to viral claims that students have to register their political views with the state.
A spokesman for the Republican governor, Bryan Griffin, told Fox News that it’s not true that students, professors, and faculty have to register their political views.
“No, students and faculty are not required to ‘register their political views,'” Griffin said Wednesday. “This same fake claim was circling the liberal Twittersphere after the bill was signed in 2021. It was debunked then. It has been debunked again, now.”
This week, several verified Twitter users—including author Stephen King, USA Today reporter Josh Meyer, MSNBC columnist Ruth Ben-Ghiat, and MSNBC analyst Fernand Amandi—spread the claim. Some re-posted a 2021 article from left-wing outlet Salon that claimed that a Florida state law that calls for viewpoint diversity and intellectual freedom in colleges forces students and faculty to register their views.
King, without making any citations, simply wrote, “DeSantis signs bill requiring Florida students, professors to register political views with state. I. Can’t. Even.”
But Griffin said that “viewpoint diversity surveys are anonymous, voluntary, and no personal information is collected by them at all—only feedback on the intellectual freedom of the campus environment, which is what the survey was designed to determine.”
According to the text of the law, which was signed by DeSantis in June of last year, it directs the Florida State Board of Education to “require each Florida College System institution to conduct an annual assessment of the intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity at that institution.”
“The State Board of Education shall select or create an objective, nonpartisan, and statistically valid survey to be used by each institution which considers the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented and members of the college community, including students, faculty, and staff, feel free to express their beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom,” the text of the law reads.
When the bill was signed, the governor said that he’s heard from parents who are concerned about sending their children to college with fears they’ll face left-wing indoctrination.
“And I know a lot of parents, one of the things they worry about, if you send a kid to a university, are they just going to basically be indoctrinated?” DeSantis said last year. “Or are they actually going to be taught to think for themselves, challenge assumptions, and really be critical thinkers and learners? We obviously want our universities to be focused on critical thinking, academic rigor. We do not want them as basically hotbeds for stale ideology.”
In recent days, there has been increased speculation that DeSantis, a Republican, would run for president in 2024 after California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, released an advertisement that called for Floridians to move to California. It’s been well-reported that hundreds of thousands of people have fled California for other states, including Florida, in recent years.
“It’s Independence Day—so let’s talk about what’s going on in America,” Newsom said in the ad, which was posted on his Twitter account. “Freedom is under attack in your state.”
A spokesperson for DeSantis last week said that the California governor “might as well light a pile of cash on fire” with the ad, which was shown during the Fourth of July in Florida.