OPINION: DeSantis diversity survey failed as a stat but succeeded as an ad

The intellectual diversity survey was a piece of a larger Gov. Ron DeSantis reelection campaign strategy disguised as a weapon defending free speech. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ HB 233 created the Intellectual Diversity Survey in July 2021 with the goal of protecting conservative viewpoints on campuses. The results of this survey were published Aug. 11, disproving DeSantis’ highly publicized thesis that Florida colleges discourage conservatism.   

The characterization of college campuses — in addition to public schools — as liberal indoctrination factories was negated by the results of the study, a thesis pushed by the governor as a reelection strategy in time for the 2022 gubernatorial elections.

Priorities for the bill have been made clear, with DeSantis as emphasizing patriotism in civics instruction and fighting “indoctrination in education,” according to a legislative session from April 30, 2021.

Of the over 368,120 students in the Florida public university system that received the survey, less than 2.4% took it, according to the Florida State University System’s Draft. Those that did respond paint a very different picture from DeSantis’.

In the survey, 85% of students either agreed or strongly agreed that their university allowed for free expression of ideas, opinions and beliefs, with 19% responding neutrally. Of those surveyed, 58% agreed or strongly agreed that their university encouraged students to consider a wide variety of viewpoints, with 16% responding neutrally.

These pithy results are no great loss to DeSantis, who merely used the survey as a stepping stone in his anti-liberal propaganda campaign leading up to the 2022 gubernatorial election. Among his greatest hits thus far are the Don’t Say Gay bill, the Anti-Critical Race Theory curriculum and the Stop Woke Act, to name a few. 

He positions these laws as “curriculum transparency” in his 2022 reelection ads, the undertones suggesting there is something insidious hidden in modern public school curriculum, and he expands on this idea in the media.

“We believe in education, not indoctrination,” DeSantis said in an April press conference

By preaching that there is critical race theory being taught at their kid’s school or that gay instructors are teaching about their sex lives with no evidence, DeSantis is fearmongering conservatives and moderates into voting for him this fall.

Florida voters should see through DeSantis’ disingenuous scheme and instead look for a leader who focuses less on optics and more on the issues that genuinely affect Floridians.