Last Thursday, June 6, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed House Bill 498 into effect to protect the freedom of speech on campus by banning free speech zones.
According to Adam Sabes from Campus Reform, the bill reads: “The institution shall not create free speech zones or other designated outdoor areas of campus in order to limit or prohibit protected expressive activities,” in addition to the bill also states that any public college or university in the state cannot deny benefits to student organizations based on their sincerely held beliefs.”
“The bill does not protect speech that ‘substantially disrupts’ the institution or ‘materially and substantially disrupt[s] the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity,’” it went on to say.
Democratic Alabama Representative Juandalynn Givan contended that, because of sponsoring this legislation, the bill’s sponsor, Matt Fridy (R-AL), has been exposed as a “white supremacist.”
Representative Matt Fridy faced several comments since the bill’s passing, even being labeled as a supporter of racism and white supremacy for signing a bill intended to protect arguable the most important amendment in the United States Constitution.
“Closing off institutions of higher education to unpopular views is incompatible with the context of academic freedom, and with the overall purpose of higher education,” Joe Cohn, legislative and policy director for the free speech nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), told Campus Reform.
Democrat State Representative Juandalynn Givan contended that by sponsoring this legislation and allowing for student groups to invite speakers of any ideology (even though the rejected speakers were all right-winged), Fridy has been exposed as a “white supremacist.”
Representative Givan also claimed that the bill’s only purpose was to protect racists. In reality, the bill was passed in order to ensure that conservative students have a voice on campus.
Conservative voices go silent every day on college campuses. Legislators are fighting hard to ensure that every student is allowed to express themselves through becoming involved with organizations are being exposed to different ideas.