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Reinforcing Free Speech on College Campuses


Submitted for use on April 8, 2022

Word Count: 315

Reinforcing Free Speech on College Campuses

By State Sen. Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond)

Freedom of speech is a long-standing pillar within our democracy thanks to the ratification of the Bill of Rights. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld First Amendment rights at state universities by stressing the importance of promoting a "marketplace of ideas" or free academic discussions on college campuses.

Universities today are not excused from this precedent and should be havens of free speech. Unfortunately, concerns regarding campuses limiting the First Amendment rights of students when their stances differ from a favored viewpoint have arisen. In response to these concerns, this session I supported House Enrolled Act 1190, which reinforces free speech and association on college campuses.

HEA 1190 prohibits public colleges and universities from discriminating against a religious, political or ideological student organization based on their lawful expressive activities or a requirement of the organization, such as members following the organization's set code of conduct. If the law is infringed upon, a student organization or individual student can bring a cause of action for violation of free speech rights before a court.

To uphold safe free expression on campuses, colleges can still enforce reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on lawful expressive activity if:

• Alternative means of expression are offered;

• Students are able to spontaneously assemble and distribute literature;

• The activity hinders the service of a significant institutional interest; and

• The restriction is clear, published and neutral regarding the content and viewpoint.

Colleges and universities are required to create and publicize an expressive activity policy that complies with HEA 1190 and train employees in response to the policy.

Our institutions of higher education should promote diversity of thought and expression, and this law will further uphold fundamental values of our democracy with respect to how colleges should handle freedom of speech and association.

If you have any questions or concerns on these or other topics, feel free to contact me at or 317-233-0930.


Click here for a high-resolution photo of Sen. Raatz.