Arkansas State Senator proposes campus free speech bill

Arkansas State Senator proposes campus free speech bill

LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT) - Students and faculty members all across Arkansas have been impacted by some sort of restriction on college campuses when it comes to voicing their opinions, a sponsor of a bill working its way through the state legislature said this week.

State Sen. Kim Hammer, R-Benton is working on legislation to allow free speech for college students and professors, whether in the classroom or any state funded institution.

After two readings, Sen. Hammer spoke with the Senate Education Committee on Jan. 23.

“Students on campuses are having their voices silenced when sitting in the classes and wanting to express their opinion, either side of the aisle, doesn’t matter," Hammer said. "But also where professors are put in that same position where they are being directed by the administration of the colleges to stay within certain perimeters would violate free speech which is the most precious of our constitutional rights.”

The bill, Senate Bill 118, would impact college campuses that have free speech zones where administration are restricting free speech including political opinions, ideas and opinions administrators may find immoral, offensive and racist.

“Students and faculty have a fundamental right to free speech. An educational institution and its administrators shall give students and faculty the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, learn and discuss any issue, subject to subdivisions (a) (3) and (a) (5) of this section,” the bill notes.

Hammer said the bill is a work in progress and wants to continue moving forward to protect free speech.

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