NTF Issue Paper: legwatch154.doc. 9-17.

Like many other college campuses, Nebraska campuses have witnessed an increasing incidence of bullying and harassment of conservative collegians exercising their 1st Amendment rights to assemble and discuss their conservative political beliefs with fellow students. Not only leftist students but also radical Left faculty members are harassing students by physical confrontation, vitriolic verbiage, and shaming and downgrading them in class. The most recent example, the bullying of a UNL student working at a conservative group table by a faculty member and teaching assistant, provides ample reason for our state legislature and University Board of Regents to act. So far, only Regent Hal Daub has requested the university administration to take action. Free speech is under assault on NE college campuses because of an illogical argument made by leftist activists and justifiers of violence. They judge the validity of an argument only by the ethnic, sexual, racial, or ideological identity of the person making a political statement. They then argue that their opponents are engaging in verbal violence. They then conclude that harassment or physical violence is sometimes justified to stop what they term unacceptable verbal violence. Many other states have passed legislative bills guaranteeing free speech for students and faculty and instituted academic bills of rights for both. Unfortunately, the NE university leadership appears unwilling or unable to guarantee 1st Amendment rights on campus and to censure and penalize those engaging in misbehavior. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told an assemblage of state legislators and those in charge of setting funding levels for public universities that they should put campus officials on notice, if they, their faculty, or student body try to restrict free speech.

The first obligation of our state legislature and University Board of Regents is to guarantee the exercising of all 1st Amendment rights by students, faculty, and staff on every NE university and college campus. The second obligation is to institute and enforce strict penalties for those who violate these rights by harassment or violence. A third obligation is to protect students from the political whims of their instructors. A Student Free Speech and Bill of Rights (SFSBR) would establish these guarantees.

The Student Free Speech and Bill of Rights would concern and prohibit particular conduct by faculty and staff:
• Requiring readings or other materials that flagrantly relate only one side of an issue.
• Introducing controversial materials unrelated to the subject.
• Students graded only on the basis of their reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the subjects and disciplines in a class, not on the basis of their political or religious beliefs.
• Faculty must teach their academic expertise and not their uninformed opinions, and they should not introduce their political agendas into the classroom.
• Gratuitously target political or religious beliefs for ridicule.
• Faculty using their courses for the purpose of political, ideological, religious, or anti-religious indoctrination.
• Conducting political activities in class (e.g., recruiting for demonstrations).
• Forcing students to express a particular point of view in assignments.
• Using university funds to hold slanted, partisan teach-ins or conferences.
• Though faculty should feel free to evoke their own findings and perspectives in presenting their views, they should consider and make their students aware of other viewpoints. Academic disciplines should welcome a diversity of viewpoints on unsettled questions.
• Although faculty should feel free in the classroom to discuss subjects within areas of their expertise, they should exercise caution in expressing personal views and take precautions to not introduce controversial matters that have no relationship to the subject taught, particularly areas in which they have no special competence or training.
• No faculty hired or fired or denied promotion because of political or religious beliefs.
The Student Free Speech and Bill of Rights would guarantee 1st Amendment rights as follows:
• The University of Nebraska system must officially recognize 1st Amendment rights as fundamental rights.
• Universities have an obligation to provide a forum for honest discussions of public issues.
• Encourage the entire university community to engage in debate and discussion in a responsible manner as part of the university educational objective.
• Students and faculty informed of their rights to free expression on campus and discipline policy(ies).
• University leadership must develop a policy statement that explains, protects, and defends free expression on campuses. The disciplinary system, policies, and regulations explained to students during freshman orientation.
• The policy adopted must become available to students and faculty annually through one or more of the following methods: (1) published annually in the institution student handbook and faculty handbook, paper or electronic; (2) available to students and faculty on the institution internet website; (3) sent annually to students and employees by email; or (4) addressed by the institution in orientation programs for new students and new faculty.
• Universities and colleges should provide an environment conducive to the civil exchange of ideas. No destruction of campus literature or other effort to obstruct free expression.
• University cannot require students or faculty to publicly express a particular view on political or social policy.
• Selection of campus speakers and allocation of university funds for speaker programs should observe principles of academic freedom and promote intellectual diversity.
• Obstructions, protests, and demonstrations that infringe on rights of others to engage in or listen or see an activity not permitted.
• Each campus must ensure free, enthusiastic, and uninhibited debate and discussion by students, including all forms of peaceful assembly, protests, public speaking, holding signs, circulating petitions, and distributing materials at tables.
• No institution may deny student activity fee funding to a student organization based on viewpoints advocated.
• No institution may charge students security fees based on the content of their speech, content of the speech of guest speakers invited by students, or the anticipated reaction or opposition of listeners.
• No campus may disinvite a speaker invited by a student, student organization, or faculty member because the anticipated speech may seem offensive, immoral, conservative, liberal, traditional, radical, or wrong-headed by students, faculty, administrators, government officials, or members of the public.
• Any person lawfully present on campus may protest, demonstrate, assemble, or engage in spontaneous expressive activity, if they adhere to university regulations of time and place and do not infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressed activity.
• No institution may restrict student free speech only to particular areas of the campus known as “free speech zones.”
• No institution may establish permitting requirements that prohibit spontaneous outdoor assemblies or outdoor distribution of literature but may maintain a policy that offers university groups the right to reserve specific outdoor spaces in advance. All public areas of campuses are public forums, open to speakers on the same terms.
• The university may regulate the time, place, and manner of 1st Amendment usage to ensure that it does not disrupt regular university activities. A protest or demonstration may not interfere with regularly- scheduled campus events.
• No members of the college or university community have the right to disrupt previously- scheduled or reserved activities at that scheduled time.
• Individuals prevented from exercising 1st Amendment rights on campus, forced into free speech zones, or discriminated against because of their political views can take legal recourse and recover attorney fees and damages.
• The state Att.-Gen. or a person whose rights allegedly suffer violation may file a lawsuit within 1 year after offense against an offending institution to stop violations and recover reasonable court costs and attorney fees.
• A policy would include a range of disciplinary sanctions for students, faculty, and staff who engage in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, bullying, or other disorderly conduct that interferes with 1st Amendment rights.
• Two complaints lodged against an offending student would trigger a hearing. Those found to have twice engaged in violence or disorderly conduct that disrupts the freedom of expression by another would face a one semester suspension. A third offense would merit expulsion. Faculty would face reprimands, censure, suspension, or termination.
• It is not the proper role of a NE higher education institution to shield individuals from speech protected by the 1st Amendment, including ideas and opinions considered by some as unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.
• The University can regulate and restrict assemblies that violate the law, disrupt the lawful functioning of a campus, falsely defame individuals, evidence sexual harassment, threaten violence, or unjustifiably invade privacy or confidentiality not involving a public matter.

Our legislature has the duty and right to enforce protections afforded by our U.S. and state constitutions. The University system must establish a system of disciplinary sanctions for both students and faculty who interfere with free speech rights of others. Penalties that can range from a simple reprimand with warning or censure as a first offense to suspension for 1 year for a second offense, and expulsion or other significant penalty for a third offense. Violators deserve notice of a charge, explanation of evidence, and opportunity to defend self.

This conservative think tank established a Center to Protect Free Speech and is disseminating model legislation to eliminate free speech zones, protect counter-protesters from discipline for lawful expression, and assist people whose free speech rights have faced violation to file lawsuits. This organization is a fine resource for information on campus free speech rights. Access https://www.alec.org/article/forum-act/.

There is no justification for restricting campus discussion of ideas, though some may offend and appear disagreeable to some university people. NE higher education should promote discovery and transmission of knowledge by teaching, discussion, and debate. The free exchange of ideas is necessary, so our campuses must ensure a high degree of intellectual freedom and make it a priority. Taxpayers pay 2/3rds of the university operating budget, so we deserve a voice to assure 1st Amendment campus rights. First, support bills in the 2018 NE Legislature to protect free speech and other rights on NE college campuses for both students and faculty. Second, contact your University regent to support this legislation, because the University hierarchy refuses to either admit a problem exists or tackle it with necessary permanent measures. Email netaxpayers@gmail.com to join the NE Taxpayers for Freedom University Watch Project.

Board Members Addresses Phone Re-election
District 1: Tim Clare 1128 Lincoln Mall #300 Lincoln, NE. 68508 402-475-5100 2020
District 2: Howard Hawks 14302 FNB Parkway Omaha, NE. 68154 402-938-1629 2020
District 3: Jim Pillen 3214 25th Street Columbus, NE. 68601 402-564-0407 2018
District 4: Bob Whitehouse 1103 Mackensey Dr. Papillion, NE. 68046 402-339-5515 2018
District 5: Robert Schafer 609 Elk Street Beatrice, NE. 68310 402-228-3443 2020
District 6: Paul Kenney 15612 115 Rd. Amherst, NE. 68812 308-826-2507 2022
District 7: Bob Phares 320 McNeel Ln. North Platte, NE. 69101 308-532-3180 2022
District 8: Hal Daub 13330 California Str. #200 Omaha, NE. 68154 402-964-5019 2018

Agenda & Meeting Information: (402) 472-3906. Available on website 1 wk. prior to meeting.
Office email address: corpsec@nebraska.edu
Board email addresses:
Tim Clare tclare@nebraska.edu
Howard Hawks hhawks@nebraska.edu
Jim Pillen jpillen@nebraska.edu
Bob Whitehouse bwhitehouse@nebraska.edu
Robert Schafer rschafer@nebraska.edu
Paul Kenney pkenney@nebraska.edu
Bob Phares bphares@nebraska.edu
Hal Daub hdaub@nebraska.edu

Research, documentation, and analysis for this issue paper done by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom. This material copyrighted by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, with express prior permission granted for its use by other groups in the NE Conservative Coalition Network. 9-17 C.

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