Indiana bill ensuring free speech at colleges moves forward

A bill that doubles down on free speech rights at Indiana’s public colleges and universities was advanced by state lawmakers Thursday.

Rep. Jack Jordan

The proposal, authored by Republican Rep. Jack Jordan of Bremen, would make explicit in Indiana law that public colleges and universities must protect free speech for all students. It was approved by a 93-1 vote in the House and now heads to the Senate.

The bill seeks to codify First Amendment and U.S. Supreme Court precedents into Indiana law, which Jordan said should guide college campus policies and ensure that free speech applies equally for all students.

All colleges and universities would be required to make those “protected expressive activity policies” accessible in student handbooks, on the school’s website and during any student orientation programs.

It also prohibits campuses from designating areas where free speech is not permitted, or from denying benefits and privileges to certain student organizations, regardless of “religious, political, or ideological” beliefs.

Jordan added that the bill would still allow colleges to restrict the “reasonable time, place and manner” of free speech, however. He said that means that while free speech is allowed, the time can be restricted.

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