SD rep wants colleges to come clean about campus free speech

A South Dakota state representative introduced a new bill Friday that would forbid public universities from restricting any lawful form of expression on campus.

HB 1073, introduced by Republican State Representative Michael Clark, aims to ensure “a free exchange of ideas” on Nebraska’s campuses by forbidding “free speech zones” and declaring that any outdoor area of a public college or university campus is a “public forum.”

The bill provides for administrators to “maintain and enforce reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions narrowly tailored in service of a significant institutional interest,” but “only if those restrictions employ clear, published, content, and viewpoint-neutral criteria, and provide for ample alternative means of expression.”

Moreover, even if a university were to impose such restrictions on a particular event, the bill would require that it still ensure that members of the campus community can “spontaneously and contemporaneously assemble and distribute literature.”

[RELATED: Harassment of conservative student prompts free speech bill]

The bill also seeks to prevent the use of a “heckler’s veto” to interfere with the legitimate of free speech on campus, stating that counter-protests are allowed as long as they do not “materially and substantially prohibit the free expression rights of others on campus, or disrupt the functioning of the institution of higher education.”

To ensure that they are complying with both the letter and the spirit of the law, colleges and universities would be required to produce an annual report for lawmakers and make it publicly accessible on their websites.

The report would need to include “a description of any barriers to or incidents of disruption of free expression occurring on campus,” a summary of what the school is doing “to promote and ensure intellectual diversity and the free exchange of ideas,” as well as any other relevant information, such as lawsuits filed against a school for violating anyone’s free speech rights.

[RELATED: MAP: Growing number of states consider free-speech bills]

Clark told Campus Reform that he introduced the bill because believes college campuses should be places where free expression is actively encouraged.

“College campuses should promote free speech, fr

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