As the Texas House is set to finally pass legislation to protect free speech on college campuses, a conservative student event just a few blocks away at the University of Texas was interrupted by a smoke bomb placed by a student protestor.
On Monday evening, Ryan Bomberger, a conservative activist, spoke to the campus’ Young Conservatives of Texas chapter about pro-life issues. Early in his presentation, however, members of the organization had to evacuate the venue as the fire alarm went off.
It was later revealed a protestor had detonated a smoke bomb, which caused someone to pull the fire alarm.
According Saurabh Sharma, the chairman of YCT, the students were undeterred by the action and relocated to a nearby lecture hall to continue the presentation.
“Young Conservatives of Texas believe in robust dialogue on important issues of public policy. Today’s act of petty sabotage shows the inability of far-left activists to engage in the civil dialogue needed to ensure a healthy environment of free speech on college campuses,” Sharma told Texas Scorecard after the event.
The timing of the incident is especially interesting because it occurred on the same day the Texas House tentatively approved House Bill 2100 by State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park), an omnibus campus free speech bill. In addition to protecting students from free speech infringements by university administrations, the bill would also require policies to be set in place to protect against the “heckler’s veto” from those trying to shut events down.
Sharma said the incident only underscored the necessity for the legislature to act.
“Elected officials, from Greg Abbott on down, must act to protect campus free speech in every way possible,” Sharma continued, “including choosing regent nominees that will prioritize students’ rights and by passing important free speech legislation like HB 2100.”
Similar, though weaker, legislation by State Sen. Joan Huffman (R–Houston) cleared the Senate last month.