A Wisconsin college campus will play host to an important committee hearing next week. The Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities will hold a public hearing on two bills, including the Campus Free Speech Act, on Thursday, December 12 at UW-Oshkosh. I would like to thank Wisconsin State Representative Dave Murphy and his committee for taking the public hearing on the road to hear from students directly on this issue.
The public hearing will begin at 10 a.m. in Room 140 BC on the UW-Oshkosh campus. The first bill that will be heard is Assembly Bill 536, which establishes a career advancement scholarship program. Authored by Rep. John Nygren of Marinette, the scholarships would go to students who are at least 25 years old and haven't attended college but would like to earn a postsecondary degree.
The Campus Free Speech Act, which I'm co-authoring again this session, will also go before the Assembly committee. Assembly Bill 444 requires the Board of Regents of the UW System to adopt a free speech policy and a range of disciplinary sanctions for students who violate that policy.
Unfortunately, there have been accounts of self-censorship by students, a lack of debate of ideas and attempts at silencing different viewpoints on college campuses across Wisconsin. We need to have the Campus Free Speech Act to make sure everyone can be heard. While the UW System responded to last session's legislative efforts by developing a free speech policy, it isn’t enough to ensure that free speech will always be protected. We need this law on the books for future generations of college students in Wisconsin.