Louisiana Passes Law Protecting Free Speech on College Campuses

by | June 8, 2017

By Will Sentell

A bill aimed at preventing the disruption of campus speakers won final legislative approval Tuesday.

The measure, House Bill 269, stems from controversy at the University of California at Berkeley and elsewhere, especially episodes where conservative speakers were shouted down.

The House voted 95-0 to go along with Senate changes to the original bill.

The sponsor is state Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria and chairman of the House Republican caucus.

Harris said that, while high-profile free speech arguments have not erupted at Louisiana colleges, he has heard from students and faculty who said a law is needed.

The bill would require management boards for LSU, Southern University and other schools to spell out policies aimed at protecting campus speech, "including without limitation ideas and opinions they (students) find unwelcome, disagreeable or even deeply offensive."

Schools would be required to outline free speech rights during freshmen orientation.

In addition, the state Board of Regents would set up a 15-member panel that would report on disruptions to free speech at colleges, how schools are handling any controversy and any changes needed.

(c)2017 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.