On May 26th, The Ohio House Higher Education Committee held a hearing on Senate Bill 40, titled “Forming Open and Robust University Minds Act.” In rare bipartisan fashion, the Ohio Senate voted 33 to 0 to pass this bill and send it to the House in early 2020. Young American’s For Liberty (YAL) asked a group of students, including myself, to speak on behalf of the bill and share their experiences as activists on campus.
The group varied in involvement, from College Republicans to YAL to Turning Point USA and others. Students and representatives of Citizens for Community Values, American’s for Prosperity shared instances where public institutions have gone after students’ rights to expression on campus.
Senate Bill 40 explicitly outlaws the so-called “Free Speech Zones” some universities have attempted to install on campuses. These zones have been used by universities to corral students’ political expression on campus to limited areas around the school, many with very low foot traffic.
The recent push to pass this bill comes after a long hiatus from discussion about the bill, as the last vote was taken on January 28th. People fear that the bill will remain in limbo yet again and won’t move forward towards a full vote in the Republican-controlled House.
Different representatives from the education committee also had the opportunity to ask questions to those testifying. Alexandria Lowe, President of Students For Life at Miami University of Ohio stated, “In 2017, our group was forced to file a federal lawsuit against Miami….Because some individuals simply did not want to see my display, suddenly my free speech was subject[ed] to their personal opinion.”
Alexandria was not the only student who shared stories of Universities going against their students’ expression. There were over ten students who testified and who urged the committee to pass the bill.
As of June 10th, 2020 there has not been another hearing or vote scheduled for Senate Bill 40.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.