Washington State Rep Fights Campus Crazies With ‘Academic Freedom Bill’

Arnold Gold/New Haven Register via AP
Arnold Gold/New Haven Register via AP

As campus crazies erode free speech, intimidate professors, and push radical progressive talking points on students, one state representative is fighting back.

Matt Manweller, representative for Washington’s 13th District, will introduce an “Academic Bill of Rights” to the state legislature in January, to roll back the erosion of free speech on campuses. Manweller told Campus Reform that he has already secured the agreement of fellow state Republicans to sign as co-sponsors, and that he has attracted interest from Democrats as well.

The bill, dubbed House Bill 3055, targets common obstacles to free speech on campus, including “Free Speech zones,” which have been used to restrict speech outside of highly specific areas on campus.

“A person who wishes to engage in noncommercial expressive activity on the campus of an institution of higher education must be permitted to do so freely,” the bill reads. “As long as the person’s conduct is not unlawful and does not materially and substantially disrupt the orderly operation of the institution.”

The bill also prohibits universities from mandating “trigger warnings” in their classes, which warn students of content that may “trigger” an emotional reaction. Trigger warnings have been criticised as one of the factors causing the “coddling” of American students, leading to decreased emotional fortitude.

The bill also addresses “microaggressions,” another widely-crticised phenomenon on campus that is allegedly about protecting students’ feelings, but has led to the banning of arguments and phrases that challenge progressive political views. Manweller’s bill would allow a college to develop educational programs or courses related to microaggressions, but would prohibit anything “that allows it to take adverse action against, discipline, or otherwise punish a student or a faculty or staff member for using microaggressions.”

Although it does not mention the issue specifically, Manweller’s bill would also challenge the widely-criticised kangaroo courts that have sprung up on American campuses to prosecute alleged rapists. The bill would mandate due process for students on campus, giving students the right to have an attorney present at all times and to present all exculpatory evidence.

Manweller, who, in addition to being a state representative, is also a political science professor at Central Washington University, told Campus Reform that he was optimistic about the bill’s chance of passage. “Every Republican member of the House Education Committee has signed on as a co-sponsor,” he said, “and several Democrats have expressed interest, as well, though they’re waiting to see what the ACLU and other stakeholders think.”

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