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Students could be expelled for shouting down campus speakers under North Carolina bill

Not only is Georgia Tech facing the wrath of a powerful lawmaker who wants to can its president for not protecting due-process rights – now the University of North Carolina System could be made into one giant free-speech zone, with penalties against those who try to squelch others’ speech.

The John Locke Foundation’s Carolina Journal reports that a bill co-drafted by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest will “very likely” be introduced in the General Assembly next month that would direct the Board of Governors to draft a systemwide free-expression policy.

Stanley Kurtz of the Ethics and Public Policy Center told the Civitas Institute’s annual Conservative Leadership Conference on Saturday that he worked on the Campus Free Expression Act with Foster:

“The statement will make it clear that it is not the proper role of the university to seal individuals from ideas … that they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even offensive,” [Kurtz] said. “In effect, this new statement will supersede, and nullify, any restrictive speech code adopted by any constituent school of the UNC system.” …

“The act expressly bars students, faculty members, employees, or any other member of the UNC system from interfering with the freedom of others to express their views,” Kurtz said. “That means no more shouting down a visiting speaker, and no more obstruction of legitimate meetings and events.”

Student could be suspended and expelled for interfering with the speech of others, under disciplinary sanctions to be devised by the Board of Governors, and universities would be discouraged from taking political positions:

When universities declare an institutional stand on controversial issues such as military policy in the Middle East or the role of government in health care, that places “tremendous pressure on faculty or students who disagree with the university’s policy,” Kurtz said.

The Board of Governors would also set up a new “committee for free expression” under the act that would issue an annual report on “the status of free expression, administrative discipline for the disruption of speech, and institutional neutrality in the UNC System,” Carolina Journal says.

Read the report.

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