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Florida: Professors May Help Lawsuit If They Aren’t Paid

The University of Florida -- in part -- backed down on its prior statements that three professors could not participate in a lawsuit against the state. The professors had planned to testify as expert witnesses in the case.

Florida president Kent Fuchs and provost Joe Glover said in a letter to the campus Monday night that the professors could participate if they are not paid. The letter said, "if the professors wish to testify pro bono on their own time without using university resources, they are free to do so."

The lawsuit is contesting the state's new limitations on voting rights. In the past many professors have participated in litigation for and against various state laws. Many professors view Florida's action in the case as limiting their academic freedom and violating the First Amendment. The new law is a priority of Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican.

Fuchs and Glover expressed support for the First Amendment.

"First, we would like to be abundantly clear that the University of Florida stands firmly behind its commitment to uphold our most sacred right as Americans -- the right to free speech -- and to faculty members’ right to academic freedom. Nothing is more fundamental to our existence as an institution of higher learning than these two bedrock principles. Vigorous intellectual discussions are at the heart of the marketplace of ideas we celebrate and hold so dear."

They also announced a new committee to examine the relevant university policies. "Second, we are immediately appointing a task force to review the university’s conflict of interest policy and examine it for consistency and fidelity."

Inside Higher Ed will have another story, tomorrow, on reactions to Florida's statement.

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