Florida public universities to adopt ‘Chicago Statement’ following governor’s announcement

April 17, 2019

On Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, surrounded by administrators from institutions across the state, asked Florida’s state colleges and universities to adopt a free speech resolution in the model of the “Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression” at the University of Chicago (the ‘Chicago Statement’). The Chicago Statement affirms that a university is “committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn.”

“By signing a resolution outlining their commitment [to freedom of expression], our state’s higher learning institutions can lead the way in promoting open discussion and civil discourse,” DeSantis said.

The governor’s office’s news release stated that all of Florida’s 12 public universities and 28 state colleges are expected to support the initiative and adopt a version of the Chicago Statement. Prior to the governor’s announcement, the Florida College System Council of Presidents submitted a resolution based on the Chicago Statement to its Board of Trustees.

To date, 60 institutions or faculty bodies across the country have adopted a version of the Chicago Statement. Before this week’s announcement, the faculty senates at Florida’s Eckerd College and University of Central Florida had already adopted versions of the Chicago Statement, as well as the Board of Trustees at Stetson University. Additionally, upon the Florida College System’s official endorsement, the system would join seven other university systems in the nation that have endorsed the Chicago Statement, including the University of Wisconsin system and the Nevada System of Higher Education.

FIRE applauds both Governor DeSantis and the institutions that have already taken steps to enact a version of the Chicago Statement. Students and faculty in Florida will benefit greatly when their institutions commit to robust protections for freedom of expression. Commitment to these values ensures that the educational community is a place that fosters deliberation and debate, and encourages community members to “openly and vigorously contest[] the ideas that they oppose.” As the Chicago Statement eloquently articulates, “without a vibrant commitment to free and open inquiry, a university ceases to be a university.”

Interested in advocating for the Chicago Statement on your campus? Contact us today!