Connecticut Post (Sunday)
University prohibits professors from testifying
The University of Florida is prohibiting three professors from providing testimony in a lawsuit challenging a new law that critics claim restricts voting rights, saying it goes against the school’s interest by conflicting with the administration of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Though the decision is being criticized as threat to academic freedom and free speech, the university said in a statement Saturday that allowing professors Dan Smith, Michael McDonald and Sharon Austin to serve as paid experts for plaintiffs challenging the law would be “adverse to the university’s interests as a state of Florida institution.”
“The University of Florida has a long track record of supporting free speech and our faculty’s academic freedom, and we will continue to do so,” the statement said.
Lawyers for a coalition of civic groups challenging the law said in court papers Friday that the professors were told by the university that their testimony would dissent from the administration of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, creating a conflict for the school.
“UF will deny its employees’ requests to engage in outside activities when it determines the activities are adverse to its interests. As UF is a state actor, litigation against the state is adverse to UF’s interests,” according to an email from an assistant vice president at the university to McDonald that was filed with the court documents.