Campus free speech at center of legislative debate in Colorado
- Days after riots captured headlines at the University of California – Berkeley on the subject of free speech, lawmakers in Colorado are considering a bill that would eliminate designated spaces for free speech in favor of full access on public campuses.
- Senate Bill 62 calls for the elimination of safe space for free speech, and would allow for students to sue a university for infringement of the same, but does not allow for students to receive monetary damages.
- The bill, which would not cover classroom discussion, has drawn criticism in its potential to allow hate speech to be committed on campus.
The notion of free speech is becoming an increasing point of emphasis and contention on college campuses and beyond. Think tanks are developing policies to punish students who inhibit the constitutional rights of others, and violence on campus is beginning to surface more frequently around the notion of idea exchange.
College leaders have two roads to take on the issue. One, to continuously promote the idea of free speech and equitable access for student expression. The other is to encourage dissenting students to avoid areas and people where inflammatory remarks may be made. It is too easy for passionate students to quickly move from the controversial to the illegal in seconds, and for violence to result. Perhaps leaders should consider a movement for students to "walk away" instead of standing and potentially creating a negative or violent interaction.