Dec 8, 2021 - News

Faculty panel: UF impeding academic freedom

Illustration of a man with a briefcase standing in front of a large wall made up of various university degrees.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The faculty of the University of Florida felt pressure to edit out "unpopular viewpoints" among state officials from course materials and to destroy data related to the coronavirus, according to a report released Monday.

Why it matters: In the report, a Faculty Senate committee said it found that UF impeded academic freedom in several instances, including hindering the ability of faculty to "contribute scientific findings" during the pandemic.

Zoom in: The university's rules about conflict of interest "complicated, murky and often difficult to articulate," the panel found.

  • The report discusses several "challenges" faculty faced when conducting COVID-related research, including "external pressure to destroy" data from an unspecified state government entity.
  • The committee further reported that UF faculty were told not to "criticize the Governor of Florida or UF policies related to COVID-19" when interacting with media outlets.

What they're saying: "More problematic than the individual examples of pressure to stifle unpopular viewpoints or restrict research was the palpable reticence and even fear on the part of faculty to speak up on these issues," the report read.

  • "There was ... a sense that anyone who objected to the state of affairs might lose his or her job or be punished in some way," it continued.

UF declined Axios' request to comment on the report.

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