Students who repeatedly infringe on others’ free speech on campus may soon face a one-year suspension or even expulsion if new legislation introduced in Michigan’s statehouse passes.
Michigan’s proposed Campus Free Speech Act is in direct response to recent events, including the much-publicized cancellation of Ann Coulter’s speech at the University of California at Berkeley, originally scheduled for late April, said its lead sponsor, Sen. Patrick Colbeck.
The state lawmaker says he hopes the legislation would prevent so-called “shout-down vetoes” of controversial campus speakers in Michigan.
“You have a right to express your concern with [a speaker], but you don’t have the right to shut them down during the actual speech. … It’s time we look at people who are prohibiting free speech rights, not trying to use that right,” Colbeck told Heat Street.
The Campus Free Speech Act would also allow those silenced to take civil action against anyone who has stopped them from speaking.
So if a speaker had already been invited by students, campus groups or faculty and was then disinvited, “they’d have some mechanism to regain that financial loss,” said Colbeck.
If it passes, the Campus Free Speech Act would apply to 15 public universities and 28 community colleges in Michigan, including the prestigious University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.