Georgia Senate passes campus speech bill


The state Senate voted along party lines Monday afternoon in favor of legislation its lead sponsor hopes will discourage people from interrupting students and guests invited to speak on Georgia’s public college campuses.

Senate Bill 339 passed 33-19, with all Democrats voting against the measure. Democrats on the senate’s Higher Education committee had previously raised concerns about the bill, such as the state senate’s legislative counsel has advised them the Georgia Legislature doesn’t have the authority to compel colleges and universities to create such guidelines. Several public college presidents have testified against the measure, citing current policies to conclude the bill is unnecessary.

The bill’s lead sponsor, William Ligon, R-Brunswick, has continuously argued the bill is needed in light of situations across the nation on college campuses where speakers, primarily conservatives, have been shouted down by critics. He’s said current rules in place on Georgia’s campuses do not go far enough to prevent people from interrupting speakers.

“If you’re disrupting an invited speaker, there could be consequences,” Ligon said during Monday’s floor debate. “You can’t test an idea or debate it if it’s being shouted down and it can’t even be heard. … We need to encourage civil debate. And that’s what this bill does.”

Provisions that would impose fines and penalties as severe as expulsion for student protesters were removed from the bill. The legislation now goes to the state’s House of Representatives.

MYAJC.COM: REAL JOURNALISM. REAL LOCAL IMPACT.

The AJC's Eric Stirgus keeps you updated on the latest happenings in higher education affecting metro Atlanta and Georgia. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

Never miss a minute of what's happening in state and local education. Subscribe to myAJC.com.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Education

Costs of starting and not finishing college are high
Costs of starting and not finishing college are high

It pays, literally, to finish what you start when it comes to education. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, who have 1,800 economists, policy experts and others at their disposal to study, monitor and describe U.S. economic health, say that a post-high-school degree — any degree from an associate to a Ph.D. — is the key...
Plan would drop Atlanta schools property tax rate by 1-mill
Plan would drop Atlanta schools property tax rate by 1-mill

Atlanta Public Schools is poised to drop its property tax rate by one mill in response to soaring Fulton County property values. Superintendent Meria Carstarphen on Friday recommended the district lower its millage rate from 21.74 to 20.74, a proposal school board members appeared to support during a budget commission meeting. The board will hold three...
Need some stock tips? Call students at Redan High School.
Need some stock tips? Call students at Redan High School.

Need investment advice?  Consider consulting the stock market savvy students at DeKalb’s Redan High School. Redan High School’s stock market teams dominated the SIFMA Foundation’s Capitol Hill Challenge, achieving an amazing showing with the No. 1 team in the nation and two others in the top 10 final money standings. The...
Auditors: Georgia can’t prove $120 million in teacher bonuses did much
Auditors: Georgia can’t prove $120 million in teacher bonuses did much

Georgia taxpayers have been spending $15 million a year on a program designed to raise the level of math and science instruction in public schools, yet the government has produced scant evidence that the money has made a difference, and there’s an indication that some of it was misspent. A cumulative $120 million has gone toward salary incentives...
Children come in all colors. So should their books.
Children come in all colors. So should their books.

A graduate of Atlanta’s Lovett School and Dartmouth College, Kabir Sehgal is the author "Jazzocracy,” "Coined: The Rich Life of Money and How Its History Has Shaped Us," and "Walk in My Shoes: Conversations Between a Civil Rights Legend and His Godson on the Journey Ahead" with Andrew Young. ...
More Stories