“includes several important provisions that will better protect campus free speech”
More states need to step up to the plate on this issue. Kudos to North Carolina.
The College Fix reports:
North Carolina passes campus free speech bill
In the wake of anti-free-speech demonstrations at colleges across the country, the North Carolina legislature recently passed a law that strengthens free speech protections on college campuses in that state.
House Bill 527 “includes several important provisions that will better protect campus free speech,” according to the Foundation for Equal Rights in Education.
Among the bill’s provisions is a mandate that colleges allow students to distribute literature in “outdoor areas.” As FIRE’s Tyler Coward writes, “[R]oughly 1 in 10 colleges maintain problematic policies that restrict expression to certain areas on campus, oftentimes called ‘free speech zones.’ These misleadingly labeled ‘free speech zones’ are routinely struck down by courts because they unconstitutionally limit student expression to tiny, out of the way areas of campus.” HB527, Coward notes, will hopefully mitigate “the need for litigation over this issue in North Carolina.”
The law also “requires institutions to create a range of sanctions for any person under its jurisdiction who ‘substantially disrupts the functioning of the constituent institution or substantially interferes with the protected free expression rights of others.’” The “substantial” qualifier, Coward points out, is intended to ensure that protected speech such as “fleeting boos” remains protected, while “conduct that materially disrupts or otherwise silences others” can (and will) be sanctioned by universities.
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