George Leef writes in National Review Online:
I wrote last week about the importance of the model bill drafted by the Goldwater Institute — the Campus Free Speech Act. In my latest Forbes article, I elaborate on the problem and why state legislators must take action.
Free speech is far too important to leave to the campus crowd of administrators, faculty, and zealous students who are little inclined to stand up for free speech. Mostly, anti-speech views rule — that is to say, speech is tolerated only if it aligns perfectly with “progressive” ideology. Since campus officials have shown that they cannot be entrusted with the crucial task of justifying and defending free speech, it’s time for state lawmakers to step in. Sure, the academic elite will howl that such legislation interferes in “their” domain, but public colleges and universities are not theirs to run.
Let us hope that legislators who want to restore the First Amendment and its values on our campuses introduce the model bill in each state. It certainly won’t pass everywhere, but the debate will be enlightening.
** Update: Lt. Gov. Dan Forest of North CArolina issued a news release 2/7/16:
Lt. Governor Dan Forest to Push for Campus Free Speech
Raleigh, NC – Lt. Governor Dan Forest today announced his intention to work with members of the General Assembly to pass the “Restore Campus Free Speech Act”. Recently, in spectacles that have been broadcast around the nation, speakers at college campuses are being denied their first amendment rights to freedom of speech. This proposed legislation would ensure the First Amendment right of freedom of speech is upheld on North Carolina public university campuses.
There are four main points to this legislation that will protect students, professors and invited speakers across the entire UNC System of schools:
1) A new policy on free expression that would nullify any restrictive speech codes.
2) A discipline policy that would punish students who shout down visiting speakers or deprive others of their right to free expression, a tactic commonly known as the “hecklers’ veto".
3) A provision that allows anyone that has had their free speech rights infringed to sue the university and recover court costs and attorney fees.
4) A requirement that freshman orientation include a session on the promotion of free expression on campus.
The bill would not:
· Restrict academic freedom of the professor to teach or express his own views in class or in writings.
· Stop the protesting of speakers, only allow for reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.
· Limit in any way the ability of professors to maintain order or direct discussion in the classroom.
The ideas used to formulate the “Restore Campus Free Speech Act” are taken from the best parts of reports and policies from schools such as Yale University and the University of Chicago, which have long standing institutionally backed policies to guarantee freedom of speech in the classroom and on campus.
“No student or guest of a university should ever feel threatened to exercise their First Amendment right of free speech, nor should they be prohibited from doing so. I look forward to working with the Legislature and Board of Governors to ensure one of our most basic American freedoms is afforded to every person on our public university campuses.” - Lt. Governor Dan Forest.