House Bill 233 FAQ

House Bill 233, which was adopted by the Florida Legislature during the 2021 session, amends existing state law to add five new provisions. They are:

· Requiring the Board of Governors, which oversees Florida’s public universities, to develop a survey meant to measure the intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity among students, faculty members and staff members at Florida’s universities. The survey will be conducted annually, starting Sept. 1, 2022.

· Prohibiting the Board of Governors and universities from shielding students, faculty or staff from protected free speech, which may include speech they find uncomfortable, unwelcome, disagreeable, or offensive.

· Allowing students to record audio and/or video of class lectures for their own personal educational use, to use as part of a complaint to the university, or to use as evidence in or preparation for a criminal or civil proceeding.

· Providing Student Government officers who have been disciplined, suspended or removed from office the right to directly appeal the decision to a senior university administrator.

· Requiring all public universities in Florida to adopt student codes of conduct that provide certain due process protections.

Amendments to state statute become law on July 1, 2021.

Changes to state law adopted by the Legislature seek to ensure that potentially objectionable information that’s protected as free speech is not kept from students or employees of Florida’s public universities. Florida’s state universities may not limit your access to or observation of ideas and opinions you may find uncomfortable, unwelcome, disagreeable or offensive.

UCF has always been committed to protecting free speech, so you should notice few, if any, changes. Students on our campus have always been encouraged to make their voice heard, and this legislation does not change that. Instead, it makes students’ free speech rights more explicit by affirmatively stating the longstanding principle that public universities may not limit access to speech based on its content.

UCF has always been strongly committed to free speech – by students, employees, invited speakers and visitors. The university supports Florida’s Campus Free Expression Act, which allows visitors to freely use outdoor areas of campus for expressive activities.

No, so long as you are enrolled in the class and are recording the lecture for one of the permitted purposes listed in the statute. You have the right to record class lectures for one of three purposes: (1) your own personal educational use; (2) in connection with a complaint to the university; or (3) as evidence in, or preparation for, a civil or criminal proceeding. As long as you are making the recording for one of these purposes, you do not need the faculty member’s consent to record the class lecture. But keep in mind that recordings may not be used to engage in academic dishonesty, or as a substitution for participation in class.

A class lecture is defined as a formal or methodical oral presentation as part of a university course intended to present information or teach enrolled students about a particular subject. A class lecture will occur most often in a course identified by the university as a lecture type course, whether online or in-person, as opposed to a lab course or a course section identified as a discussion section.

No. The definition of class lecture does not include other classroom activities such as class discussions, unless those discussions are incidental to, and incorporated within, a class lecture. A class lecture also does not include student presentations (whether individually or part of a group), lab sessions, clinical presentations such as patient history, academic exercises involving student participation, test or examination administrations, field trips, or private conversations during a class session. These activities may not be recorded without the express consent of all participants. Your faculty member or instructor may or may not announce when the lecture portion of a class has ended, but it is up to you to ensure that you do not record at an impermissible time.

No, not without the faculty member's written consent. While you may record the class lecture, you may not publish the recording without permission. In this context, the word “publish” means to share, transmit, circulate, distribute or otherwise provide access to the recording, regardless of format or medium, to another person (or other persons), including but not limited to another student in the class. Additionally, a recording, or transcript of the recording, is published if it is posted on or uploaded to, in whole or in part, any media platform, including but not limited social media, book, magazine, newspaper, leaflet, picket signs, or any mode of print.

Yes, you may publish the recording to university officials or state and federal government officials in connection with a complaint made to or against the university, or you may publish the recording as evidence during civil or criminal legal proceeding. If you wish to make a complaint to the university,

please utilize the UCF IntegrityLine, a secure reporting system available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Complaints can be submitted anonymously at the UCF Integrity Line or toll-free at 1-855-877-6049.

If you do publish your recording of a class lecture without the faculty member’s written permission, and it is not in connection with a university complaint or as evidence in a criminal or civil legal proceeding, you could face severe legal and/or disciplinary consequences. Per HB 233, your unauthorized use of the recording allows the faculty member to take you to court for damages, including attorneys’ fees, totaling as much as $200,000.00. Additionally, you may be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity for a potential violation of the student code of conduct as described in the Golden Rule.

If you have an accommodation through Student Accommodation Services (“SAS”) to record class activities, that will not change. However, you should be sure not to share the recordings without the faculty member’s written consent. Please contact SAS with any questions about your accommodation.

All state universities were required to include additional due process protections in their Student Code of Conduct. These include a presumption of innocence for students and student organizations accused of conduct violations; a burden of proof that must be carried by the institution; the right to an impartial hearing officer; and the right to have an attorney, advisor or advocate participate in conduct proceedings at the student’s or student organization’s expense.