by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Magdalene Horzempa offers Martin Center readers an update on free-speech protections within the University of North Carolina.
In 2017, the North Carolina legislature passed House Bill 527 (now State Law 2017-196) in order to foster free, open inquiry in the state’s colleges and universities. …
… The free speech provisions of the law protect students exercising their First Amendment rights and require institutions to punish anyone who infringes upon these rights. This is fundamental to the purpose of a university, permitting the free exchange of ideas that is a pre-requisite for the search for truth. …
… The end of the 2017-2018 academic year marks the first year of implementation of S.L. 2017-196 and provides an opportunity to review how it has affected the UNC system.
In light of this opportunity, the Martin Center has conducted a review of UNC campuses to measure how well free speech and institutional neutrality have been protected. …
… The Martin Center examined three facets of free speech. The first is a rating system of free speech regulations created by a non-profit organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
The second facet concerns incidents in which groups or individuals have had their free speech rights infringed upon.
The third concerns the commissioning of “bias response teams” that are likely to infringe upon campus community members’ rights.
North Carolina universities have done an admirable job of protecting and respecting free speech on campuses—except for the growing use of bias response teams.