A new law in Virginia aims to protect and defend free speech on college campuses.
The legislation, recently signed by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, simply states: “Except as otherwise permitted by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, no public institution of higher education shall abridge the constitutional freedom of any individual, including enrolled students, faculty and other employees, and invited guests, to speak on campus.”
It goes into effect July 1.
Republican Delegate Steve Landes, chairman of the House Education Committee, praised the development as a step in the right direction.
“This bill safeguards speech on our campuses and guarantees that our students are exposed to a wide variety of ideas and opinions and afforded the opportunity to express themselves as well,” Landes said in a news release. “Our institutions of higher education should encourage healthy debate and prevent censorship of contrary viewpoints or perceived controversial speech.”
According to The Cavalier Daily, the campus newspaper at the University of Virginia, “in the Senate the bill passed with a 36-4 vote after a short amendment was proposed to add the term ‘constitutional’ in describing the freedoms the bill protects.”
“I hope it’s going to protect not only people who are invited to speak, but also the student’s rights to express themselves in a peaceful manner and to not be afraid of being punished for saying something,” Democrat Del. Jennifer Boysko told the Cavalier. “Having a group of diverse points of view helps people grow and understand one another better.”