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Campus Free Speech Resolution Reported to the House Floor

Richmond, VA - Following a vote in the House Rules Committee today, Delegate Dave LaRock’s Campus Free Speech Resolution is headed for a floor vote in the Virginia House of Delegates. HR 431 is designed to ensure free expression at Virginia’s public university systems. The Resolution advises public institutions of higher education to protect free speech, and it communicates the urgent need for the governing board of each public institution of higher education in the Commonwealth to develop and adopt a policy on free speech.

Del. LaRock said, “Virginia is the cradle of democracy, and it is a disgrace that many universities have lost track of the idea that it is their responsibility to uphold free-speech principles. Each public institution of higher education in the Commonwealth should ensure free, robust, and uninhibited debate and deliberation by enrolled students, whether on or off campus. Our taxpayer-funded universities in Virginia, instead of being champions of free speech are creating “safe spaces" and idea-free zones, where disagreement is prohibited on campuses. The truth is, this kind of challenge to campus free speech is now widespread. By passing this measure, we are communicating to universities and the public that students are in school to learn how to think; they are not going to college to be protected from differing opinions.” “This resolution will put down a marker as a precursor for next session when I will follow up with legislation to assure universities take this seriously.”

This resolution, drafted in collaboration with the Goldwater Institute, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and Stanley Kurtz of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, brings Virginia into the national debate on how best to address the ever-growing threats to freedom of thought and expression at our publically-funded colleges and universities.

“The Goldwater Institute helped design this resolution which takes a much needed step toward making entire college campuses free speech zones,” said Jonathan Butcher, education policy director at the Goldwater Institute and co-author of the report. “This resolution takes that concept and puts it into a forceful statement which will move toward protecting all forms of free expression on college campuses in publically funded colleges in Virginia.”

“Today’s college students will be tomorrow’s legislators, judges, teachers, and voters,” said Casey Mattox, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “This resolution reminds universities of their obligation to model the First Amendment values that they are supposed to be teaching the next generation.”

HR 431 instructs the Clerk of the House of Delegates to, “…transmit a copy of this resolution to the chief executive officer of each public institution of higher education in the Commonwealth, requesting that each such chief executive officer further disseminate copies of this resolution to the governing boards of their respective institutions so that they may be apprised of the sense of the Virginia House of Delegates in this matter.”

National Review article on this resolution

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