A conservative University of Virginia student was “berated” after questioning a subjective “strike” system that the student government there imposed to discourage professors from “offensive” speech.
And a professor-led mob of activist students swarmed a Zoom lecture to deliver a pro-Palestinian, anti-Semitic message at New York City’s Hunter College.
Not to mention numerous conservative speakers, from Ben Shapiro to Ann Coulter, have been boycotted, uninvited, protested or drowned out after being booked to speak at colleges around the U.S.
So North Carolina Rep. Greg Murphy, ranking member of the House Education and Labor Committee’s Subcommittee on Higher Education, will introduce a bill Thursday that aims to protect free speech at colleges and universities.
“There are many instances that are going on on college campuses these days, where conservative views are not being tolerated – they’re being attacked by other students and by professors,” Murphy told Fox News Wednesday. “And that nonsense needs to stop.”
The Campus Free Speech Restoration Act aims to crack down on “policies that improperly constrain the expressive rights of students.”
Colleges receiving federal money would be required to publicly disclose their free speech policies in exchange for Title IV funding under the 1965 Higher Education Act.
“They receive federal funds, and those funds are taxpayer money, and those type of policies should be readily available to the American public,” he said.
The bill also condemns so-called free speech zones as “inherently at odds” with the First Amendment and states that the increasingly popular “bias reporting systems” are susceptible to abuse that can lead to unwarranted censorship. It would also require the secretary of education to designate an official to receive and address cases of First Amendment abuse on college campuses.
The move would make it easier for students, faculty and the taxpaying public to hold institutions accountable during First Amendment controversies.
“When I was back in college, free speech was welcomed,” Murphy said. “You had a free exchange of ideas without any type of rancor, and I’m not so sure that’s the case anymore.”
“Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you take a walk through college campuses, you can see this,” he added. “There were even college campuses in North Carolina that had days of mourning after President Trump became president. Just utter nonsense that this that were sanctioned by the college presidents.”
University leaders and educators have no business sharing their political views with students, he said.
“College presidents shouldn’t be tweeting out political partisan gestures,” he said. “It’s not their place, because then what it does is it sets up a system of fear, just like in Red China: If you do not abide by the party line, there will be retribution.”
“And I know on campuses, students fear this, professors fear this,” he continued. “They won’t get the right committee assignments. They won’t get tenure. It’s a real issue.”
Last month, a St. John’s University adjunct professor in New York City said she was fired after reading a passage that included the N-word from an anti-slavery Mark Twain novel out loud.
Murphy said he believes the bill has a lot of support in the Education Committee.
“This is a real issue and we’re not going to let the progressive left win on this,” he said. “It’s time that they stop polluting our children’s minds.”
Even the American Civil Liberties Union has called for the defense of free speech on college campuses.
“How much we value the right of free speech is put to its severest test when the speaker is someone we disagree with most,” the ACLU says on a portion of its website dedicated to free speech at universities. “Speech that deeply offends our morality or is hostile to our way of life warrants the same constitutional protection as other speech because the right of free speech is indivisible: When we grant the government the power to suppress controversial ideas, we are all subject to censorship by the state.”