The Florida State University Office of Public Policy Events

The Florida State University Office of Public Policy Events was established in July 2023 by an act of the Florida Legislature.

1001.93   Offices of Public Policy Events within the State University System.

(1) The Legislature finds that the advancement of knowledge is the fundamental purpose of the State University System and that such advancement is facilitated by the fearless sifting and winnowing of a wide diversity of views and that the open discussion and debate of contested public policy issues from diverse perspectives provides essential preparation for mature citizenship and an informed exercise of the right to vote.

(2) For purposes of this section, the term:

(a) “Debate” means an event at which two or more participants speak in favor of opposing approaches to the same public policy dispute, after which each participant is allotted time to address and rebut the position presented by the opposing speakers.

(b) “Group forum” means an event at which two or more speakers address a public policy dispute from divergent or opposing perspectives, after which each participant is allotted time to address questions from the audience and to comment on the other speakers’ positions.

(3) Each state university within the State University System must have an Office of Public Policy Events and must appoint a Director of Public Policy Events who is responsible for the duties and reporting responsibilities of the office. The office must, at a minimum:

(a)1. Organize, publicize, and stage debates or group forums at the state university. These events must address, from multiple, divergent, and opposing perspectives, an extensive range of public policy issues widely discussed and debated in society at large. The university shall sponsor no less than four events each academic year. At least two events must occur during the fall semester and at least two events must occur during the spring semester.

2. Such debates and group forums must include speakers who represent widely held views on opposing sides of the most widely discussed public policy issues of the day and who hold a wide diversity of perspectives from within and outside of the state university community.

3. If the office is unable to readily find an advocate from within the state university community who is well-versed in a perspective, the office shall invite a speaker who is able to represent such perspective. The office shall, when necessary, provide such speakers who are not from within the state university community with per diem and a reimbursement for travel expenses.

(b) Maintain a permanent, publicly accessible, searchable, and up-to-date calendar in print, on the office’s website, and on the state university’s website listing all of the events sponsored by the office and all other debates, group forums, and events open to the entire campus community at the state university that address public policy issues. The calendar must itemize the title of the event; the name and institutional affiliation of the speaker or speakers; and the office, institute, department, program, or organization that sponsored the event, excluding those events sponsored by off-campus groups in rented state university facilities. Such calendars must be kept in the library system of each state university.

(c) Beginning September 1, 2024, and annually each September 1 thereafter, provide to the Board of Governors a report detailing the following:

1. The number of debates and group forums.

2. In chronological order, the calendars itemizing the title of each event; the name and institutional affiliation of the speaker or speakers; and the office, institute, department, program, or organization that sponsored the event.

3. The number of enrolled students attending each event.

4. Expenditure information relating to any per diem or reimbursement for travel expenses.

The report must reflect prior academic year statistics.

(d) Make publicly available, in an online format, a complete video record of every debate and group forum organized by the office. The video recording for an event organized by the office must be posted on the office’s website within 10 business days after the event. Such video must remain publicly accessible on the office’s website for at least 5 years after the date of the event. Such videos must also be permanently preserved within, and made available to the public through, the library of the state university that hosted the event.

(4) Upon approval of the board of trustees of the state university and the Board of Governors, a state university may assign the duties of the office to an existing administrative office within the state university rather than establish a separate office.

(5) Each office shall report directly to either the state university’s office that is responsible for compiling and reporting the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System’s graduation rate survey or Office of General Counsel.

(6) Each debate and group forum organized by the office must be open to all students, faculty, and staff of the state university and, unless restricting attendance to such event is necessary to achieve a compelling governmental interest, to the general public.

State University System Free Expression Statement

The State University System of Florida and its twelve public postsecondary institutions adopt this Statement on Free Expression to support and encourage full and open discourse and the robust exchange of ideas and perspectives on our respective campuses. The principles of freedom of speech and freedom of expression in the United States and Florida Constitutions, in addition to being legal rights, are an integral part of our three-part university mission to deliver a high quality academic experience for our students, engage in meaningful and productive research, and provide valuable public service for the benefit of our local communities and the state. The purpose of this Statement is to affirm our dedication to these principles and to seek our campus communities’ commitment to maintaining our campuses as places where the open exchange of knowledge and ideas furthers our mission.

A fundamental purpose of an institution of higher education is to provide a learning environment where divergent ideas, opinions and philosophies, new and old, can be rigorously debated and critically evaluated. Through this process, often referred to as the marketplace of ideas, individuals are free to express any ideas and opinions they wish, even if others may disagree with them or find those ideas and opinions to be offensive or otherwise antithetical to their own world view. The very process of debating divergent ideas and challenging others’ opinions develops the intellectual skills necessary to respectfully argue through civil discourse. Development of such skills leads to personal and scholarly growth and is an essential component of the academic and research missions of each of our institutions.

It is equally important not to stifle the dissemination of any ideas, even if other members of our community may find those ideas abhorrent. Individuals wishing to express ideas with which others may disagree must be free to do so, without fear of being bullied, threatened or silenced. This does not mean that such ideas should go unchallenged, as that is part of the learning process. And though we believe all members of our campus communities have a role to play in promoting civility and mutual respect in that type of discourse, we must not let concerns over civility or respect be used as a reason to silence expression. We should empower and enable one another to speak and listen, rather than interfere with or silence the open expression of ideas.

Each member of our campus communities must also recognize that institutions may restrict expression that is unlawful, such as true threats or defamation. Because universities and colleges are first and foremost places where people go to engage in scholarly endeavors, it is necessary to the efficient and effective operations of each institution for there to be reasonable limitations on the time, place, and manner in which these rights are exercised. Each institution has adopted regulations that align with Florida’s Campus Free Expression Act, section 1004.097, Florida Statutes, and with the United States and Florida Constitutions and the legal opinions interpreting those provisions. These limitations are narrowly drawn and content-neutral and serve to ensure that all members of our campus communities have an equal ability to express their ideas and opinions, while preserving campus order and security.