The Ohio state senate unanimously passed a bill that would, among other provisions, ban free speech zones on the state’s college campuses.
Ohio Senate Bill 40, or the “Forming Open and Robust University Minds Act,” was introduced by state Sens. Andrew Brenner and Rob McColley, both Republicans. The bill came as Campus Reform has reported on multiple schools banning or otherwise charging exorbitant security fees for conservative speakers to visit not only college campuses in Ohio but across the country.
The legislation, if signed into law, would ban “free speech zones,” prevent colleges from prohibiting “noncommercial expressive activity,” as well as preventing colleges from imposing security fees “based on the content of their expression, the content of the expression of their invited guest, or the anticipated reaction to an invited guest’s expression.” The bill would also prevent colleges from “creat[ing] ‘free speech zones’ or designat[ing] other outdoor areas of campuses where expressive activities are prohibited.”
“In seeing what was going on in other states and other universities throughout the United States, we felt [the bill] was needed to be brought here to Ohio so we can protect the freedom of speech for students on campus,” Brenner said, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
David Jackson of the Ohio chapter of the American Association of University Professors, opposed the bill.
“There is a substantial difference between banning an idea and disallowing a controversial speaker that would cause massive disruption and create crowds that campus police could not control,” Jackson told the Dispatch.
James Smith, chairman of the Ohio State University Young Americans for Freedom, applauded the bill.
“I admire Rep. Brenner’s continued fight for institutional reform affecting the ways speakers are (and sometimes aren’t) allowed to speak on Ohio college campuses. I believe FORUM is a step in the right direction for Ohio educational policy and will, if passed, help to make college campuses more of a marketplace for ideas and less dominated by leftist groupthink,” Smith said, according to YAF.