Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is recommending a bill that will legally require university officials to defend offensive speech.
The bill is a supplementary piece of legislation to Walker’s 2017-’19 biennial budget; that budget stipulates giving $10,000 to the UW System to revise its “policies related to academic freedom.”
The Capital Times reported on the contents of the bill:
The UW Board of Regents and each college campus “shall guarantee all members of the system’s community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn.” “It is not the proper role of the board or any institution or college campus to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.” Members of the system’s community are free to criticize and contest views expressed on campus and “speakers who are invited to express their views, (but) they may not obstruct or otherwise interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even loathe.” “The board and each institution and college campus has a responsibility not only to promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it.”
Leftists were predictably upset that Walker was supporting free speech; Jason Klein, spokesperson for Associated Students of Madison, told The Capital Times, “Just as speakers should have the right to comment on issues they want to, students should have the right to protest what speakers are saying. If the university is being told to censor students, that is troubling,” Jason Klein, spokesperson for Associated Students of Madison, told The Capital Times.
Michael Moscicke, president of the AAUP chapter at UW–Madison, added, “My only concern is to ensure that speech at our institutions will be protected under such a law, even when it takes the form of protest.”
Walker’s actions were likely triggered by protests last November at the UW-Madison, where the campus Young Americans for Freedom hosted Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro, which led to large student protests.