University of Texas eliminates free speech zones
Sep 12, 2019
lacortenews.com

University of Texas eliminates free speech zones

The University of Texas announced that it has eliminated free speech zones after a state ruling affirming that everywhere on campus should actually be a free speech area.

The announcement: University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves issued a statement on August 30 confirming the school will no longer limit students' right to free speech to designated areas. Fenves noted that the decision comes in response to the campus free speech bill.

"Earlier this year, the 86th Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 18, which makes outdoor areas at state universities open to the public for speech and expression. Starting on September 1, most outdoor spaces on the UT campus will be available to the general public for these purposes, and the university has adopted new policies in conformance with the law."

You can read the full statement here.

The billSB 18, requires universities in Texas to allow any person to engage in free speech activities on campus, to have disciplinary sanctions for those who interfere with such activities, and to have a process for addressing complaints of free speech violations. Universities, under the bill, are allowed to regulate these free speech activities, such as putting restrictions on the time, place and type.

"A good example that makes it easy to understand is that you can’t just have a rock concert...because that would disturb the daily activities of the campus,” UT spokesman J.B. Bird told the Daily Texan.

"The law went into effect Sept. 1, 2019, thus ensuring compliance by that date" but "it allows universities until Aug. 1, 2020, to finalize specific rules for implementation. The interim policies and procedures that UT Austin has introduced at this time will be finalized and recommended for approval by the UT System Board of Regents by that date of 2020," UT spokeswoman Shilpa Bakre told Campus Reform.

University Democrats don't like the decision. "What [some organizations] are currently doing is making students feel unsafe and unwelcome. I believe that universities should be able to step in and keep people like [Richard] Spencer or useless incendiary protests like [Young Conservatives of Texas’] or Turning Point’s from happening," said University Democrats President Joe Cascino.

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