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North Carolina bill would force colleges to follow the Constitution

Valentina Petrova/AP

North Carolina is seeking to end the silencing of free speech on college campuses. Will it finally help conservatives have their voices heard? (Photo via Valentina Petrova/AP)

After years of seeing free speech on college campuses get degraded, North Carolina’s General Assembly is taking matters into their own hands.

Both the North Carolina House and Senate proposed bills at the end of March titled the “Restore/Preserve Campus Free Speech” bills, which are pretty self-explanatory. However, questions remain as to how will a bill of this magnitude be implemented.

Anna Beavon Gravely, the deputy state director of the North Carolina chapter of Americans for Prosperity, told Red Alert Politics that if this bill is signed into law, it will give more power to the state government by diminishing the role of campus administrators trying to silence free speech.

“It reinforces the strength of the First Amendment and really gets to the point of saying specifically students and faculty have the freedom to discuss any problem that exists,” Gravely said. “If it falls under the First Amendment, then absolutely, you can express dissenting opinions, you can protest lawfully, and demonstrate.”

Gravely continued to say that students will be allowed to invite conservative speakers onto their campus without being rejected by school administrators and faculty over political differences. Additionally, this bill differs from the free speech legislation proposed last year is that instead of letting college administrators and faculty police speech themselves, they’re developing a compliance office.

“Any disciplinary action for … free speech compliance [will be] housed in the diversity offices and departments,” Gravely explained. “So any enforcement of free speech compliance falls within the diversity offices [with compliance officers].”

The law will impact the 17 public universities within the University of North Carolina system, but will not touch the private universities like Duke or Wake Forest.

The bill also demands that institutions “strive to remain neutral, as an institution, on the public policy controversies of the day and may not take action, as an institution, on the public policy controversies of the day in such a way as to require students or faculty to publicly express a given view of social policy.”

Republicans are strongly in favor of the bill. State Reps. Chris Mills, R-Pender, and Jonathan Jordan, R-Ashe. did not return a request for comment in time for publication.

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