Confronting Campus Free-Speech Legislation

By Monica Owens

As well-funded organizations like the Goldwater Institute continue their coordinated attack on the public good, “campus free-speech” bills are making their way through state legislatures across the country. In response to the threat posed by these bills, the AAUP has put together a toolkit that chapters can use to inform and organize faculty members and students.

The toolkit, available online at, contains a short primer, talking points, and scripts for contacting legislators about campus free-speech bills. These versatile organizing and legislative advocacy tools can be used in one-on-one conversations with AAUP chapter members; carried along to office visits to new or prospective chapter members; cited in conversations with legislators or in public testimony; incorporated into letters to the editor or into blog or social-media postings; discussed at chapter meetings; or used in campus teach-ins or public forums. (The State of the Profession column in this issue provides additional information about the challenge of resisting campus free-speech legislation.)

In conjunction with the development of these resources, in April the AAUP’s Committee on Government Relations issued Campus Free-Speech Legislation: History, Progress, and Problems, a report that contextualizes the current wave of legislation and suggests ways that faculty can respond. This report, together with the tools available on the One Faculty, One Resistance website, can help create informed, organized, and strong chapters ready to defend AAUP principles and the public good.


The Middlebury College example with Charles Murray typifies what the public feels is wrong with academia. Activist students and professors, overwhelmingly on the left, are permitted to interrupt and prevent speakers with whom they disagree from being heard by the audience. And this interruption is justified on the grounds that such speech is hateful, and therefore hurtful, to some listeners If this objection is allowed to stand, universities will have lost their main reason for existence. This is well understood by the extreme left and is perhaps the major reason why they are so deeply involved in both the humanities ad social science departments. It is vitally important to them that the historically true record of multiple socialist failures throughout the 20th Century not be heard by students.

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