In the wake of various attacks on the First Amendment by radical far-left groups on university campuses, State Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R–Lakeway) is seeking out a way to protect students’ rights on public university campuses.
Buckingham’s legislation, Senate Bill 1151, would eliminate “free speech zones” on college campuses. While such an action may sound like it would cause harm, the effect would be a major victory for free speech. Instead of restricting free speech to certain areas of campus, Buckingham’s bill would require that students be allowed to speak their minds where, how, and when they want.
Although SB 1151 was only briefly heard in the Senate Committee on Higher Education, the reaction from those on the committee was largely in favor. Indeed, Buckingham drew support from members of both sides of the aisle.
Although the bill is in its earliest stages and has a long way to go, Texans should hope that Buckingham’s bill starts to garner serious attention. In the wake of various attempts to apply the heckler’s veto and chill students’ rights on college campuses, Texas and its government should stand wholeheartedly alongside all students and their sacred right to speech.
Likewise, freedom of speech on campus should not be limited to a one or two block radius, like it currently is at the University of Texas-Austin, Texas A&M, and other universities.
Although we can expect to hear more from Buckingham regarding SB 1151 this session, the bill’s movement so late in the process makes it unlikely that the legislation will pass this session. Lawmakers should view it as a major missed opportunity to protect the rights of their fellow Texans.