Free speech is dying on college campuses; this is a known fact all across America. But with the events at Evergreen College and UC Berkeley, it seems as though colleges are now giving in to the anti-free speech movement. Luckily, many conservative legislatures across the nation are now beginning to introduce bills that will uphold this cherished right. One state representative, Lance Harris (R-LA), has proposed a bill that will uphold the First Amendment on campus.
His bill, House Bill 269, calls for college management boards to report “any barriers to or disruptions of free expression within state institutions of post-secondary education.” If this bill is passed, colleges could no longer be passive towards the crisis facing free speech. It also requires that “Protests and demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others… shall not be permitted.” Harris’ bill asserts that “it is not the proper role of an institution to shield individuals from speech protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution” as well.
In other words, House Bill 269 would compel colleges to take an active role in protecting free speech. Consequently, safe spaces would be abolished because institutions would not be allowed to “shield individuals from speech” under the bill. Furthermore, any demonstration that violates an individual’s rights “shall not be permitted.”
Fortunately, this bill is already gaining traction. According to The Advocate, the Louisiana House approved HB269 by a 66-29 vote. The Louisiana Senate must approve the bill before it can be put on the Governor’s desk. If they approve Harris’ bill and it is signed into law, Louisiana colleges will be one step further to fulfilling their mandate of facilitating “the discovery, improvement, transmission, and dissemination of knowledge by means of research, teaching, discussion, and debate.” This bill may start a nationwide trend of states taking action to protect the right of individuals to speak freely on campus.