College is meant to be a place where students can explore ideas and theories, learn from others, and express their own thoughts. Correct? Sadly, this principle of the free expression is in desperate need of protection on publicly funded college and university campuses across the country.
Too often, campus speakers and students are shouted down and occasionally violently attacked, just because protestors dislike their opinions. While these demonstrators have the right to protest, they don’t have the right to violate the first amendment rights of others simply because they disagree with them.
The good news is that Texas lawmakers have the opportunity to protect free speech on these campuses! When the legislature reconvenes in Austin next year, bills will certainly be introduced on this topic. In the meantime, Generation Opportunity’s Texas field director, Dustin Lane, is scheduled to testify on the need to protect free speech on campuses on January 31 at Texas State University.
See how Dustin explains the importance of campus free speech and what lawmakers can do to protect it in the San Marcos Daily Record:
“Free speech zones and casual acceptance of violence as a tool to silence opponents have no place on college campuses – or anywhere else in the United States.The whole point of college is to expose students to new ideas and challenge existing ones. How can they learn anything new if they’re never exposed to ideas that present a different world view? How will they ever learn to counter bad ideas with good ones if they’re sheltered from hearing anything with which they might disagree?Ideally, the leaders of our state’s institutions of higher learning will take steps to correct existing problems so our legislators don’t have to. A few common-sense steps they could take are:Repealing all speech codes and so called free speech zones that unconstitutionally infringe on the rights of their students.Making clear to everyone what is and is not permitted — and making those rules viewpoint-neutral — before imposing any restrictions on the time, place and manner of speech, and then only when ample alternative means of expression are provided.Allowing students to freely demonstrate in public places, provided their conduct is lawful and does not materially disrupt the functioning of the institution.”
Hopefully, Dustin and other campus free speech advocates will be heard. Here’s how you can join him in asking Texas lawmakers to protect freedom of expression on publicly funded university and college campuses too.