State legislatures want to bring sanity back to college campuses
A growing number of state legislatures are working on measures to prohibit public colleges and universities from stifling free speech on campus.
In response to a college trend of enacting harsh speech codes and limiting activities protected under the 1st Amendment to designated “free speech zones” on campuses, state lawmakers throughout the country are pushing back to protect students.
Wisconsin, Georgia, Utah, and Texas are the latest states to join the fight for the 1st Amendment on campus.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker is championing a budget companion bill which would give the University of Wisconsin $10,000 to put toward efforts to revise academic freedom policies.
From the bill:
It is not the proper role of the board or any institution or college campus to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. The board and each institution and college campus has a responsibility not only to promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it.
A bill introduced by Texas lawmakers, meanwhile, would prohibit universities in the state from enacting harsh rules limiting how and where students are allowed to exercise 1st Amendment rights.
In Utah, House lawmakers just passed a similar bill.
In addition to eliminating free speech zones, a Georgia bill would prohibit universities from administering “disciplinary action due to expression because of its viewpoint or because of the reaction to or opposition to such expression by listeners or observers.”
According to Campus Reform, at least seven other states are on track to pass similar campus speech legislation by the end of the year. And thanks to model legislation produced recently by the Heritage Foundation, more are likely to follow.