State Senate Committee Approves 'Free Speech on Campus' Bill

Free speech on Texas state college campuses received the strong support of the Senate State Affairs Committee, which approved a bill which would require that all colleges provide equal opportunity to various political groups in everything from literature distribution to on campus speakers, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

"Common outdoor areas are deemed to be traditional public forums, and permit every individual to engage in expressive activities freely," State Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) who wrote the proposal, told the committee.

Conservative students told horror stories or being spat on, attacked, and bullied when they have attempted to do things on college campuses which liberal groups do routinely.

Jonathan Saenz, a University of Houston educated attorney who now heads a group which engages in legal battles on behalf of conservative causes, says pro-life students have it the worst on campus.

"Some of our students were actually threatened to be kicked out of school for defending their First Amendment rights.

University of Texas at Austin student Sirap Sherma agreed that liberal groups are welcomed and conservative groups are threatened and bullied, often by college administrators.

"One of the common sights that students at U.T. are exposed to, really early on in their college experience, is the omnipresence of Planned Parenthood on campus," he said. "They are frequently tabling and organizing, asking you to sign petitions and stuff."

Some students said they were bullied not for pushing conservative viewpoints, but for being inadequately supportive of the liberal causes which permeate the campuses, like for declining to sign a Planned Parenthood petition.

But more frequently, students said college administrators use their 'petty bureaucracy' powers to shut out conservative speakers, requiring 'permits' and other permissions that don't seem to apply to liberal groups.

Harold Holder found that out when he and his friends wanted to stage a program opposing the removal of Confederate monuments at Texas State University.

"We put up the fliers, the following evening, before the event, University police told us that we had to get written permission from the University if we wanted to put our fliers up,or distribute them in any way."

Others told of University officials using the threat of campus protests as a justification for barring conservative speakers from campus, what is known as a 'heckler's veto.'

Huffman's bill would prohibit all of that, and the only complaint that members of the committee had was that the bill doesn't go far enough. They wanted to expand it to include financial penalties against state supported Universities which deny equal free speech to conservatives.



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