Senate-approved bill will require universities to feature “opposing viewpoints” at campus events

The University of Florida-Gainesville is one of 12 state institutions that would be affected by this bill. Photo by Antonio Lopez on Unsplash

A senate committee approved a proposal on Wednesday that would establish more requirements for university-sponsored speakers and events.

Under the Postsecondary Educational Institutions Bill, Florida’s state universities would need to create a “committee on public policy events.” 

Each committee would have to hold at least four events every academic year that talk about “issues widely discussed and debated in society.”

Republican Senator Keith Perry authored the bill. He said these campus events will be required to feature speakers who support and oppose the issues being discussed. 

“We think there’s enough experts in the university system to provide pros and cons,” Perry said. “We do allow in the bill that if you can’t find that, you can pay per diem costs and travel costs that the universities would pay for if they could not find someone within the existing system.” 

Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book was one of two senators who voted in opposition of the bill. During discussion, she asked how debate topics would be decided. 

“Would input be received from students and faculty if they felt unhappy or didn’t want something to be discussed?” Book said.

In response, Perry said there will likely be an opportunity for students and faculty to share feedback on discussion topics. Though, it’s not outlined in the bill.

Perry said the committees would not “micromanage the universities,” but serve as a resource for student organizations and encourage public debates on campuses. 

“Our goal here is to have diversity,” Perry said. “We want to have kids get opposing viewpoints on issues.”

If the bill is passed by both chambers and signed by the governor, it will become law on July first.

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