Campus free speech subject of new state bill

Courtesy NPR

Courtesy NPR

College students who block protesters or speakers from speaking on public colleges and universities would be penalized under a bill now in the state Senate.

The “Campus Free Speech Act” would penalize people who infringe on protester’s, speaker’s, student’s and professor’s first amendment rights.

The rules would apply to the state’s public universities and community colleges.

Republican Senator Patrick Colbeck introduced the legislation.

“I think there’s only been one worldview that’s been promoted for a while, and a lot of attempts to go off and express dissenting opinions on matters, while they may be encouraged in some of the explicit policies, they’ve been unevenly enforced at the various universities.”

A Grand Valley State University group was threatened with arrest while handing out constitutions on campus in November.

Senator Colbeck said the Grand Valley incident was one of the reasons he took action.

“It’s about time we started saying no no, these universities are supposed to be an area where we are supposed encourage a diverse discussion, and people try to shut down and use intimidation, I’m not a big fan of bullies and in a way this is kind of anti-bullying legislation.”

Colbeck said penalties for breaking the rules include a year suspension, possibly expulsion or a thousand dollar fine.