University of Florida reverses course to allow professors to testify against state

Amidst a storm of protests, the University of Florida on Friday abandoned its efforts to prevent three political science professors from...


Amidst a storm of protests, the University of Florida on Friday abandoned its efforts to prevent three political science professors from testifying in a suffrage lawsuit against the administration of Governor Ron DeSantis.

The reversal came less than a day after Mr DeSantis ‘office backed up behind university policy, saying in a statement that professors’ right to express themselves freely was irrelevant as they were paid to act as expert witnesses in the case. .

The university came under heavy criticism a week ago when a Federal Court record in the case revealed that professors, Daniel A. Smith, Michael McDonald and Sharon D. Wright Austin, did had not been allowed to participate in the case, which seeks to overturn the restrictions. on the vote Mr. DeSantis signed in May.

Officials said their work as expert witnesses for plaintiffs in the trial created a conflict of interest for the university, which is funded by the state. But nationwide free speech experts and professors have denounced the decision as a dangerous violation of long-established principles of academic freedom, and said the move smacks of political interference from the Republican government. of State.

Mr DeSantis denied any role in the decision, but he made no secret of his view that the state university faculty functions as a branch of a liberal institution opposed to its political positions.

University president Kent Fuchs dropped the post on Friday in a campus-wide email. He said he had asked officials “to overturn decisions regarding recent requests by UF employees to serve as expert witnesses in a dispute in which the state of Florida is a party and to approve the claims independently. personal compensation, assuming the activity is their responsibility free time without using university resources.

Mr Fuchs appointed a task force of seven university officials, including the rector, deans of journalism and law schools, and the university’s ethics and privacy officer, to review conflict of interest policies and determining how requests for testimony would be handled. in the future.

The concession appeared to be an unqualified victory for the three professors, all nationally recognized experts in their fields. Professors Smith and McDonald have testified frequently in national election and voting cases. Professor Austin is an expert on African American political behavior and the author of a number of books on this and related subjects.

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Newsrust - US Top News: University of Florida reverses course to allow professors to testify against state
University of Florida reverses course to allow professors to testify against state
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