Arizona campus free speech bill unlike anything we've seen before

  • HB 2238 is designed to hold public universities in Arizona accountable for more discussions on campuses.
  • Bill would require Arizona Board of Regents to establish Public Policy Offices at every university under the board’s jurisdiction.

A bill currently making its way through the Arizona legislature aims to promote free speech on campus. 

Republican state Rep. Anthony Kern sponsored the bill, which would direct the Arizona Board of Regents to create an Office of Public Policy Events at each one of Arizona's public universities to "organize, publicize, and stage debates, group forums, and individual lectures that address, from multiple divergent and opposing perspectives, an extensive range of public policy issues that are widely discussed and debated in society at large." 

"organize, publicize, and stage debates, group forums, and individual lectures that address, from multiple divergent and opposing perspectives"   

The legislation stipulates that universities "invite speakers who hold widely diverse perspectives from within and outside the university," and "if necessary, provide honoraria and travel and lodging expenses to persons from outside the university." 

[RELATED: Arizona bans colleges from restricting student speech]

HB 2238 passed the House in late February and is currently being debated in the Arizona state senate. 

In addition to offering a wide range of perspectives, the bill would also require that universities maintain publicly accessible and searchable lists of each event hosted by the Office of Public Policy Events. Starting in September 2021, the calendar would go to the governor and lawmakers. The legislation would also require universities to record each event and post videos of every debate online. 

Speech First President Nicole Neily reacted to the legislation in a statement to Campus Reform, saying, “Rep. Kern’s proposal is provocative, and I appreciate that he’s shining a light on an underreported problem in American higher education.”

[RELATED: State lawmakers unanimously pass free speech bill. Professors oppose the effort.]

Kern is no stranger to free speech legislation. In 2016, he sponsored a bill that effectively banned "free speech zones" on Arizona campuses.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed that bill into law, as Campus Reform reported at the time. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @GenSanchezz

Get exclusive access to breaking CampusReform stories as they happen. Sign up below and we'll keep you in the loop.
 Weekly Digest

 Daily Emails

Genesis Sanchez
Genesis Sanchez | Florida Campus Correspondent

Genesis Sanchez is a Florida Campus Correspondent, reporting liberal bias and abuse on campus for Campus Reform. She studies at Florida State University and serves as a Contributing Editor at The Lone Conservative.

18 Articles by Genesis Sanchez