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Two campus free speech bills introduced in North Carolina

The Herald Sun reports on the latest efforts in North Carolina to restore free speech on campus:

State legislators have filed two “campus free speech” bills that on their face would eventually force UNC-Chapel Hill and perhaps other campuses in the UNC system to revise some of their campus-conduct rules and procedures.

The parallel measures in the N.C. House and state Senate surfaced at the end of March, and for the most part echo proposals from a national group, the Goldwater Institute, that argues the handling of speech-related issues on campuses across the country is at once too strict and too loose.

As introduced, the N.C. House bill would require the system Board of Governors to prescribe “a range of disciplinary sanctions” for anyone affiliated with a UNC campus “who interferes with the free expression of others.” A board committee would monitor the campuses’ handling of that.

Stanley Kurtz, co-author of the Goldwater Institute's model campus free speech legislation, commented on the importance of the measures, as the Herald Sun reported:

An advocate working with the Goldwater Institute, Stanley Kurtz, has argued that the free-speech measure is necessary because freedom of speech is “under siege on America’s college campuses.”

In testimony to a Congressional committee, he cited the occasional incidents of outside speakers being “shouted down while on campus,” and said they occur because of the “failure of administrators to discipline students who disrupt visiting speakers or their fellow students.”

Each incident that goes unpunished has “the potential to send a chilling and dangerous message of intimidation across the entire country,” he argued.

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