Campus free speech expression by Sen. Rick Ward & LFF
For parents of college-aged kids or students heading to school this month, this is one act you’ll want to be familiar with. Effective June 1, SB364 was signed into law by Gov. Edwards and officially became Act no. 666 (www.legis.la.gov), after diligent efforts by Sen. Rick Ward, with support from Louisiana Family Forum, passing something modeled in importance to American Legislative Exchange Council’s FORUM Act (Forming Open and Robust University Minds).
What does this bill do?
SB364 seeks to ensure that students and faculty have the freedom to discuss any topic as long as these discussions are not unlawful and do not materially and substantially disrupt the functioning of the college or university.
Amidst a growing hostility to free speech rights, SB364 applies to public institutions of higher education. The bill:
• protects the rights of all people to engage in lawful expression
• protects student and student groups from disciplinary actions because of their lawful expression, including belief based organizations
• makes clear that a counter protest in and of itself is not an infringement or does not “interfere” with the free speech rights of others as long as it is conducted in a lawful way
• requires that students are educated regarding their free speech rights and responsibilities
• protects academic freedom and limited government
• protects the rights of all voices, especially those with which we may disagree
Today’s college students are tomorrow’s teachers, doctors, legislators, and voters. That’s why it’s so important that public colleges and universities remain free marketplaces for the exchange of ideas, and critical they abide by the First Amendment to ensuring robust dialogue and respect for all viewpoints on campus. Examples exist of a growing intolerance and lack of respect for free speech on campus.
Why is SB364 a good idea?
State legislators have a vested interest in ensuring that our taxpayer-funded universities demonstrate the First Amendment values that make our nation great, inclusive, and respectful of all viewpoints.