Florida’s most politically oppressive college campuses, ranked

by | Sep 10, 2022



  • UF, FGCU, and FSU have the highest percentage of students and employees who report feeling “intimidated” to share their views on campus
  • The data was compiled from the State University System’s Intellectual Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity 2022 Survey
  • Response rate had no correlation with the results of the survey
  • The University of Florida not only scored worst, but also had the highest number of survey results returned, while also ranking third highest in total response rate
  • FSU scored third worst, but had the 9th lowest response rate

While it’s no secret that college and university campuses across the country – and right here in Florida – generally skew more liberal among professors and students, Americans have traditionally shrugged it off as a fact of life. But now a rich trove of survey data collected in Florida suggests that thousands of students and employees across all 12 of Florida’s state colleges and universities say their professors and colleagues are so intolerant of alternative views that they feel too intimidated to share their real opinions. The vast majority of those who reported feeling intimidated identified as conservative, and said their school’s prevailing political climate was overwhelmingly liberal.

The rich trove of survey data, collected from more than 18,000 students and employees, provides fascinating insights about the political atmosphere at each of the state’s 12 higher learning institutions. And though media outlets across the state have collectively ignored the data, pollsters and political data experts say that the survey results are a valid source of information that provide a clear and easily understood picture of campus life at Florida’s higher learning institutions.

Notably, the survey response rate – whether high or low – had no clear correlation with the reported results. The University of Florida scored collectively as the most ideologically intolerant school, but also had one of the highest response rates among all the schools. Florida State University scored third most politically oppressive, yet did so with only the 9th highest response rate. Meanwhile, the University of South Florida ranked as one of the most politically tolerant schools even with the third highest response rate.

Using data from the survey, The Capitolist ranked each of the state’s 12 schools based on the results of the most salient questions, posed to both students and employees alike. The results paint an alarming picture of Florida’s collegiate environment where at some schools, political diversity is frowned upon and orthodoxy is achieved through intimidation, while other schools are more encouraging and open-minded about the free expression of ideas.

Here’s a look at how students on each campus responded to the prompt: “I have felt intimidated to share my ideas or political opinions because they were different from those of my professors.

Source: Intellectual Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity 2022 Survey

 

The worst scoring schools were led by Fort Myers-based Florida Gulf Coast University, where the highest percentage of students reported feeling intimidated to share their views simply because they were different from their professors. FGCU was followed closely by students attending the University of North Florida, in Jacksonville, while the University of Florida, based in Gainesville, rounded out the top three.

Florida A&M University, New College of Florida, and Florida Polytechnic had the least intimidating environments according to students who responded to the survey.

A similar prompt was given to campus employees, which included administrators, professors, staff, and other general employees: “I have felt intimidated to share my ideas or political opinions because they were different from those of my colleagues.” Here’s how those responses break down by campus:

Source: Intellectual Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity 2022 Survey

 

Two of the same three schools showed up again as worst for fostering political diversity. This time, though, the University of Florida lead the pack by a wide margin with a stunning 49.88 percent – nearly one in every two employees – reporting feelings of intimidation about sharing their beliefs.

Joining UF was a surprise showing by New College of Florida, the smallest higher education institution in the state university system, with 46 percent of all employees saying they felt intimidated to share their views. Fortunately, NCF students were among the least likely to feel intimidation.

Rounding out the top three among employees was Florida Gulf Coast University, which also had a high number of students report similar feelings.

To account for the difference in numbers of respondents between students and employees (some schools had significantly higher responses from one group or another), we combined the responses of all students and employees to arrive at a weighted percentage for everyone who attends or works at each campus who also reported feeling some level of intimidation about sharing their political views because they didn’t align with the school’s prevailing liberal ideology.

Based on the survey data from more than 18,000 employees and students, here are all 12 of Florida’s state colleges and universities ranked in order of most to least politically oppressive:

Source: Intellectual Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity 2022 Survey

 

By a wide margin, the University of Florida, based in Gainesville, ranks the worst overall. Roughly two in five – 40% – of the people on UF’s campus don’t feel comfortable enough to share their real views on political matters. While detractors may argue that the survey results are too low to provide a realistic picture of what’s really going on at the school, pollsters and data scientists say that’s not true. At best, they say, the total percentages at each school might skew in one direction or the other, but the sample sizes are large enough (significantly larger than most scientifically accurate political polls) that even if every single student and employee at all 12 schools were surveyed, UF would still almost certainly rank worse than its peers.

Likewise, Florida Gulf Coast University isn’t far behind UF, with nearly the same number of students, professors and staff complaining that the campus environment is politically oppressive and intimidating.

Rounding out the worst three schools is a bit of surprise: Florida State University. While FSU didn’t rank in the worst three in either of the individual surveys, the combined results reveal that FSU’s campus is among the least politically tolerant schools in the state.

29 Comments

  1. Mike Manderscheid

    Could we have a similar survey for Florida state government employees?

    Reply
  2. A CONCERNED PARENT

    PARENTS .. .take a look at the ratings and be sure you choose wisely. INTIMIDATION is NOT acceptable.

    Reply
  3. John

    Brian, Why are you still referring to a survey that doesn’t support anything you state? Only 2.4% of over 800,000 participated in the survey. It hardly supports anything you are pushing. You are nothing more than MAGA hack sewing disinformation and division.

    Reply
    • Brian Burgess

      John – please tell me how 18,000 survey responses are somehow invalid when:

      (A) the response rate isn’t correlated with the results, AND;

      (B) pollsters say the sheer volume of the responses DOES make it valid.

      Thousands of students and thousands of employees feel intimidated on campus.

      How do you justify ignoring that?

      Reply
    • Jen

      This is still statistically significant. In layman terms, 18,000 surveys are more than enough to be predictive of 800,000. (For comparison, most political polls use roughly 3000 to predict millions of registered or likely voters.). The only possible problem is a selection bias based based on those eager to participate in this survey. However, as stated above, the overall sample is more than large enough to buffer this bias to the point that the findings are relevant even if the numbers are skewed. The skew is not enough to be statistically significant given the sample size.

      Reply
      • Jen

        off topic — I did not pick this avatar above and in no way am I angry about anything…anyone know how to change it?

        Reply
        • mgaraito1

          I was just wondering about those avatars!

          Reply
      • dmmorrison

        Sorry, but it’s not statistically significant. Significance isn’t the total number of respondents, but rather the percentage — and the way they were chosen. That’s why e-mail blast internet polls are mostly nonsense. People who have an axe to grind about something respond. People who are content with it don’t.

        Reply
        • Chris

          Exactly.

          Reply
      • Chris

        There are no clearly defined “choices” because there are no choices…just propoganda statements. The single largest statistic is that few care about this whiney garbage.

        Reply
    • Rambo Benson

      Already explained in article. 🙄

      Reply
    • Jack

      John – You are a social fascist, know nothing clown.

      Reply
      • dmmorrison

        Socialist or fascist? Pick one. They’re pretty much mutually exclusive.

        Reply
  4. Chris

    “Response rate had no correlation with the results of the survey” So….100 people go into a restaurant and have a meal. They are polled how the meal was. Only two replied and they hated it. Does the restaurant suck? Desantis has extrapolated exactly what he wanted to hear from this failed survey. Your site has “parroted” this.

    Reply
    • Brian Burgess

      I love how some people are so willing to declare 18,000 responses “invalid” when most polls rely on 300 -1000 people.

      Here’s the thing: nobody is claiming the actual percentage of responses accurately reflect the full campus breakdown.

      But pollsters I’ve talked to say that with such a high number of total responses (again, 18,000), it is very likely that the real results won’t deviate very much from the results we have here.

      Further, the alleged “low response rate” means nothing.

      Low compared to what? The total population of Florida campuses? Absurd. First there is no evidence that a lack of response correlates with the lack of a perceived problem on campus. That’s because there’s no evidence that the survey emails were opened, read, and then willfully ignored. They might have gone unopened. We don’t know.

      Moreover, if this topic of great interest, one can easily Google the results of similar surveys over the years by data and political scientists.

      Those claiming there is no problem because if the “low response rate” will be shocked to learn that Florida’s survey results are in line with other findings in across most of the questions.

      Reply
      • dmmorrison

        Interesting question. I’ll bet if you had this type of open poll on whether, say, DeSantis has adversely affected college teaching, you’d get far more than 18,000 responses. Does that mean it’s true?

        Reply
  5. Chris

    The miserable response rate clearly shows that this pressing “issue” is no issue at all.

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    Statistically Insignificant – meaningless survey

    Reply
  7. Deborah Coffey

    This “survey” is about as ridiculous as CRT being taught in schools and teachers grooming LGBTQ kids. What else can the MAGA crowd pull out of their hats to destroy democracy and institute FASCISM? Only a sucker would buy one word of this article. But, once you’ve destroyed education, you’ll have tons more suckers, right?

    Reply
    • Chris

      Agreed. However….this article will be shared wildly….showing up everywhere as a statement of fact.

      Reply
      • dmmorrison

        Which is why we have to stay in their face.

        Reply
  8. Rich

    Thank you, Brian Burgess, for disseminating this information. We all have our own interpretation what it means: something, everything, nothing. I think it probably understates the real extent of the problem. Which increases the resolve of those of us who oppose the liberal oppression.

    Reply
    • Chris

      “Liberal oppression”. Oh for heavens sake.

      Reply
    • dmmorrison

      You’re welcome to your own opinions and biases. But not to your own facts. The poll flawed, misleading and statistically insignificant.

      Reply
  9. The Unvanquished Truth

    Why? This survey was a farce! They do not identify which group the “intimidated” staff members belonged to, since the author admits that the universities have a tradition of ranging from liberal to ultraliberal (remember the “minor attracted” fiasco where the professor was trying to justify pedophilia as a natural form of sexual attraction) isn’t it highly likely that the ones being intimidated are the conservatives or ultra-conservatives? However, we will never know because the developers of this worthless survey never asked the responders to identify their personal political stance. Since the surveys were anonymous why did they not allow for self-disclosure. This survey was poorly written and is a total waste of time and money!

    Reply
  10. mgaraito1

    I’m surprised people are so willing to dismiss the fact that people feel intimidated or bullied in universities, where diversity of thought should be considered sacrosanct. Where are the “safe spaces” for minority viewpoints? If even two liberal leaning students out of 100 felt unsafe, I’m sure a survey like this would be touted throughout the media with righteous outrage. Even in the eighties, speaking out as a conservative on campus was intimidating. I can only imagine what it must be like now.

    Reply
    • dmmorrison

      Nobody is dismissing the possibility that somebody may feel “intimidated.” But the term is poorly defined here (and in the survey). One of the reason political extremists may feel lonely on college campuses, or anywhere, is that their views are not shared by others. But back to “intimidated.” Of course students feel “intimidated” by their teachers. Teachers are intimidating because they know more about the subject than we do.

      Reply
  11. Jim

    This analysis makes several references to “pollsters and political data experts [who] say that the survey results are a valid source of information.” Who, exactly, are these anonymous “experts”? Do they even exist?

    Reply

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