On Friday, May 17th, Texas House legislators passed a bill protecting the First Amendment on all public colleges. Bill 18 requires universities to create disciplinary sanctions for students who interfere with free speech activities.
SB18 would still allow universities to put restrictions on the time, place, and manner of such activities. The bill was authored by State Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston).
As The Texas Tribune reports, “The bill was labeled a top priority by Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and it passed unanimously out of the Senate in late March. It passed the lower chamber Friday on a 86-58 vote after three amendments by state Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, were added onto the measure.”
Similar to Alabama legislation, this bill requires universities to establish all common outdoor areas as traditional public forums and allows anyone to exercise free speech.
SUGGESTED: President Trump’s Newest Executive Order Mandates Free Speech On Campus — A Win for TPUSA
An amendment in SB18 prohibits university officials or employees from disinviting a speaker that was approved to speak on campus or was invited by a university-affiliated individual or group.
Another amendment requires universities to create a committee to submit to lawmakers annual reports that analyze free speech policies and events.
Much of the criticism of campus free speech policies comes as events in recent years have some worried that conservative voices are being silenced on college campuses.
In 2017, Texas A&M University was threatened with a lawsuit after it canceled a rally with white nationalist Richard Spencer. Also in 2017, Texas Southern University came under fire from lawmakers after it halted a speech by Congressman Cain when protesters disrupted it.
Texas is home to countless Turning Point USA chapters, a student organization in which conservative thinkers are thrown out, discriminated against, or even physically attacked simply for existing on college campuses.
Texas State Senate Bill 18 is the first step in the right direction for students who need protection on campus.