AAUP Denounces Florida's Stop WOKE Act

By Austin Rhea

In October, AAUP president Irene Mulvey issued a statement criticizing the assertion by the state of Florida, in a legal brief defending the Stop WOKE Act, that “a public university’s curriculum is set by the university in accordance with the strictures and guidance of the state’s elected officials,” making the curriculum “government speech” and therefore subject to administrative control. First signed into law last April, the Stop WOKE Act has been met with lawsuits and backlash since its implementation. Much of the opposition has been rooted in concerns about potential infringements on academic freedom, as the act has been invoked largely to limit teaching about race, antiracism, and gender.

Standing with those who are vigorously protesting the law, Mulvey asserts in her statement that “the Stop WOKE Act forces instructors to become mouthpieces for politicians in service of thwarting antiracist progress” in an act of “breathtaking” hypocrisy. The AAUP’s opposition to the Stop WOKE Act and other “educational gag orders” that seek to dictate what can be taught and learned in university classrooms is grounded in its long-standing support for the principles of academic freedom and for the primary role of faculty in determining curriculum. And, as Mulvey warns, “the stakes for the future of academic freedom in Florida and beyond could not be higher.”

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