Arizona bill would bolster, reinforce free speech mandates on college campuses

From 2005- George Mason University student social art installation/ USED UNDER CC BY DC JOHN : FLICKR

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Daily Sun

Saying they don’t want people shouted down or drowned out, a Senate panel voted Thursday to spell out what’s expected of state universities and community colleges to keep their campuses open to all speakers.

Current Arizona law already bars publicly funded schools of higher education from restricting a student’s right to speech, right to hold a sign or distribute fliers in public areas. And it prohibits restrictions on the time, place and manner of student speech.

HB 2563 expands on that, saying any restrictions put in place must be “the least restrictive means” to further a legitimate government interest.

Potentially more significant, the legislation would extend free speech rights beyond the students and faculty to anyone who can lawfully be on campus, spelling out that public areas of the schools “are public forums and are open on the same terms to any speaker” and that campuses are open to any speaker who has been invited by even just one student.

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