Colorado public universities just got a whole lot freer: the state’s governor, John Hickenlooper, recently signed a law that abolishes “free speech zones” on Colorado college campuses.
The North Denver Tribune reports that Colorado Senate Bill 62 “prohibits the state’s public universities from establishing unreasonable speech restrictions.” Universities are still allowed to place “reasonable time, manner, and place” restrictions on demonstrations. But they will no longer be allowed to confine free speech to limited “zones.”
The bill, signed earlier this month, comes amidst a wave of free speech controversies on college campuses across the country. Recently Ann Coulter cancelled a planned speech at the University of California Berkeley due to threats of violence. Last month a mob of protestors at Middlebury College descended on conservative speaker Charles Murray, disrupting the event and injuring a professor so badly that she had to go to the hospital.
[Young Americans for Liberty] chapters across the state have hosted free speech activism events throughout the year, including ones at the University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (UCCS). Last fall, YAL at UCCS pushed for free speech reforms in their student government in an effort to raise awareness about the state’s poor record on the issue.
“Before this legislation, students at Colorado’s public universities were subject to the arbitrary enforcement of free speech zones and codes. These restrictive speech policies were used to suppress unfavorable or offensive speech. I applaud the state of Colorado for supporting Senate Bill 62, and its passage is truly a reflection of the activism done by YAL’s grassroots network in Colorado as part of our national Fight for Free Speech campaign,” YAL President Cliff Maloney Jr. said.
“Free speech zones” still remain on many campuses nationwide; for instance, last month a lawsuit was brought against the Los Angeles Community College District challenging their speech policy.