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Alabama Legislature Passes Bill Supporting University Academic Freedom

Sarah Chaffee

academic freedom

At the end of May, the Alabama legislature passed HB 498, striking a blow for freedom in the state’s public universities. The legislation is extensive, but I would like to highlight parts that will impact speech on evolution and intelligent design. From HB 498:

Section 3. (a) On or before January 1, 2020, the board of trustees of each public institution of higher education shall develop, adopt, and enforce a policy on free expression that is consistent with this act. The policy, at a minimum, shall adhere to the following provisions: …

(3) That students and faculty are free to take positions on public controversies and to engage in protected expressive activity in outdoor areas of the campus, and to spontaneously and contemporaneously assemble, speak, and distribute literature. …

(9) That the institution will strive to remain neutral, as an institution, on the public policy controversies  of the day, except as far as administrative decisions on the issues are essential to the day-to-day functioning of the university, and that the institution will not require students, faculty, or staff to publicly express a given view of a public controversy.

Alabama passed HJR 78 in 2017, a resolution supporting academic freedom for teachers and students to discuss scientific controversies.

Kudos to Alabama for making free speech a priority in public education!

Photo: Alabama State Capitol, by David Mark via Pixabay.