The Board of Governors is considering “a policy that would allow the expulsion of students who repeatedly disrupt freedom of speech or expression on campus.”
While the proposed policy seems to protect free speech on its face, the actual language of the policy allows for great discretionary power at the hands of an unspecified sanctioning body. If taken completely literally, the policy could protect speech. But given the amount of unrestricted space it allows, the policy also has the potential to stifle speech instead.
The proposed policy would require the University to punish any student, faculty member or staff member who “substantially disrupts the functioning of the constituent institution or substantially interferes with the protected free expression rights of others, including protests and demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in and listen to expressive activity when the expressive activity has been scheduled pursuant to this policy or is located in a nonpublic forum.”
The proposed policy does not specify which University body would determine and execute punishments, nor does it specify the differences in processes that would be employed when sanctioning students, faculty and staff, respectively.
And given the partisan slant of the BOG, students, faculty and staff should be keeping an eye on this policy, and if it moves forward, should object to it.