The answer is: Extremely likely.
Due to a surge in efforts to chill dissent, undermine academic freedom, and destabilize higher education, over a dozen states currently have a campus “free speech” bill in their state house or senate.
Use this free tool to search for the bill in your state, track its progress, and capture contact information for the legislative committee members reviewing the bill. Simply click on your state, select “Bills” at the top, and type “campus free speech” into the search bar to the right. For committee members, click “Committees” at the top.
Then see the AAUP’s Campus “Free Speech” Toolkit for a phone script, talking points, a primer, and a full report on the issue. With the toolkit, it’s easy to make a quick call or fire off an email to the appropriate legislator.
You’ll be glad you did. Campus speech legislation is an example of legislative interference in the autonomy of universities and colleges. It undermines academic freedom, and chills dissent on campus. This damaging legislation often has some or all of the following characteristics:
- Forbids public institutions from disinviting speakers and requires that they remain neutral on “issues of public controversy.”
- Establishes mandatory minimum penalties for students or others found to have twice interfered with the free expression of others. Suggested minimum penalties are suspension and expulsion.
- Provides that individuals who believe that their free speech has been disrupted or prevented on a public campus may sue the institution to enforce the legislation and can recover court costs and attorney’s fees.
- Requires that public institutions create an oversight committee, sometimes called a “Committee on Free Expression,” to oversee the implementation of campus free-speech law and to produce an annual report about the management of free speech on campus.
- Requires public institutions to provide training to incoming students, faculty, and staff on their free speech rights under the new law.
Concerned? We all are.
Thank you for defending higher education from this unnecessary and speech-chilling legislation.
Political Organizer, AAUP