The Colorado Statesman: The debate over student free speech, campus safe zones and political correctness moved into the Colorado Capitol on Thursday and took a surprise turn when three Democrats joined with four Republicans on the Senate education committee to unanimously advance a campus free speech bill sponsored by arch conservative-libertarian Sen. Tim Neville.
“Elected officials have a duty to citizens to ensure their liberties remain intact,” said Neville in his closing remarks. “On campuses around the nation, students are too often prevented from exercising their rights to free expression.”
“[We all support] a safe and constructive educational environment benefits everyone,” he told the committee. “But when a safe environment violates constitutional rights, it’s no longer safe.”
Senate Bill 62 contains free speech protections and free assembly protections.
The bill would prohibit public universities from “restricting a student’s constitutional right to speak in any way in a public forum, including speaking verbally, holding a sign, or distributing flyers or materials.” And would also prohibit them from imposing “unreasonable restrictions on the time, place, and manner of student speech that occurs in a public forum and is protected by the first amendment… Public institutions of higher education are prohibited from designating any area on campus as a free speech zone.”
Given recent cultural trends, where conservative media outlets and think tanks have targeted universities in an ongoing information and messaging war, it was unsurprising that Neville’s list of witnesses testifying in favor of the bill were overwhelmingly conservatives who felt campus safety, speech and assembly policies were stifling.
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