Freedom of expression bills considered


Arkansas and Ohio propose bills that would guarantee freedom of expression for students in higher education





\nARKANSAS - The Arkansas House of Representatives passed\nHouse Bill 1031 in January, which would allow all public school\nstudents freedom of expression.

The students granted this particular right were originally\ndefined as those attending "a public school, college or university\nor other public educational institution in the state," and\nwas later changed to include only higher education students.

Under the legislation, the rights of students would be protected\nto express their views through speech and symbols, writing, publishing\nand disseminating their views and to assemble peaceably on school\nproperty for the purpose of expressing their opinions.

The bill specifically enumerated that school administrators\nmay not punish protected expressions made by students and those\nexpressions are not to be deemed an expression of school policy.\nIt also provides that no school official will be held responsible,\neither civilly or criminally, for such student expression.

The bill is currently listed as "deferred/inactive."\n

A similar bill passed on Feb. 16 in the Ohio House Education\nCommittee by a vote of 14-2. The bill limited the restriction\nthat could be put on student expression at Ohio's public colleges\nand universities. It was scheduled to be debated in the full House.\n

If passed in the House, it will go to the Senate, where similar\nlegislation has died twice before.

Rep. Bill Schuck, R-Columbus, introduced the bill in January\nin reaction to the popular trend of university speech codes put\nin place to "punish speech that is deemed to be 'offensive'\nor not 'politically correct.'"

David Goldberger, an Ohio State law professor, disagrees with\nthe bill. He has said that such policies concerning expression\nshould be decided by the schools, not by the state legislature.


reports, Spring 1999