GOP bill restricting speech on campus passes Assembly

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State Republicans aim to restrict speech on UW campuses
State Republicans aim to restrict speech on UW campuses

MADISON- The Republican-led Assembly has passed a bill cracking down on ‘disruptive’ speech on University of Wisconsin campuses. Though the bill’s supporters have said that disciplining protesting students will enhance free speech, the bill’s goals are clear. State Republicans want to silence leftists and promote their own agenda on campus.

Nico Savidge at the Wisconsin State Journal reports:

The state Assembly approved a Republican-backed bill late Wednesday night that aims to prevent disruptive protests on college campuses by requiring the University of Wisconsin System to suspend and expel students who repeatedly interrupt speakers.

The bill’s supporters described it as a step to protect free speech by ensuring potentially controversial speakers, often conservatives, can present their ideas on UW campuses without being shouted down.

Democrats and several UW faculty members derided the proposal as a politicized solution in search of a problem, saying no one has faced violent protests or been denied the right to speak at Wisconsin’s public universities.

The bill passed on a 61-36 vote after more than three hours of debate, with Rep. Bob Gannon, R-West Bend, the only Republican to vote against the proposal. All Democrats voted against it.

Debate over the legislation has reflected both long-standing conservative claims of liberal bias on university campuses and a growing sense on the right that left-leaning college students, faculty and administrators have become more hostile to differing opinions.

“It is imperative that our institutions of higher education remain a free marketplace of ideas, as intended,” said Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, a lead author of the legislation. “Sadly we are at a crossroads. … UW’s base policies are not working.”

Rep. Terese Berceau, D-Madison, called the bill a “gag rule” that comes on the heels of other Republican attempts to limit speech, including set times for floor debates and Assembly gallery visitors not being allowed to hold signs or wear T-shirts with messages.

Read more at the Wisconsin State Journal.