Relates to requiring the regents to adopt a policy that ensures all students enrolled at state university of New York and city university of New York institutions are able to express themselves freely without fear of intimidation or harm.
STATE OF NEW YORK
2021-2022 Regular Sessions
October 20, 2021
Introduced by M. of A. BARCLAY -- read once and referred to the Commit-
tee on Higher Education
AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to ensuring all students
enrolled at state university of New York and city university of New
York institutions are able to express themselves freely without fear
of intimidation or harm
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "college
2 and university free speech act".
3 § 2. Legislative findings and intent. Section 8 of article 1 of the
4 New York State Constitution states that "every citizen may freely speak,
5 write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsi-
6 ble for the abuse of that right; and no law shall be passed to restrain
7 or abridge the liberty of speech".
8 The legislature views freedom of speech as an important, fundamental
9 right enjoyed by all Americans and institutions of higher learning
10 should be places of information sharing and learning, productive
11 discourse, and free expression.
12 The legislature is tasked with ensuring everyone in this state has
13 access to the highest quality of life, including their higher education
14 experience. Therefore, immediate, effective action is necessary to
15 protect all students, who would like to be able to express themselves
16 without fear of intimidation or harm.
17 The legislature has determined that all state university of New York
18 and city university of New York institutions shall adhere to a policy
19 officially recognizing freedom of speech as a fundamental right.
20 § 3. The education law is amended by adding a new section 6438-a to
21 read as follows:
22 § 6438-a. College and university free speech. 1. Within one hundred
23 twenty days of the effective date of this section, the regents shall
24 adopt a policy on free speech that applies at all state university of
25 New York and city university of New York institutions. Such policy shall
26 include, but not be limited to:
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.
A. 8342 2
1 (a) all state and city colleges and universities shall be places of
2 information sharing and learning, productive discourse and free
4 (b) it is not the proper role of a college or university to shield
5 individuals from speech protected by the first amendment of the United
6 States constitution and section eight of article one of the New York
7 state constitution;
8 (c) students and faculty have the freedom to share ideas and views as
9 permitted by the first amendment and section eight of article one of the
10 New York state constitution;
11 (d) any person lawfully present on a college or university campus may
12 protest or demonstrate, unless that protest or demonstration interferes
13 with the expressive rights of others;
14 (e) college and university campuses are open to invited speakers by
15 faculty or students, regardless of their viewpoints as protected by the
16 first amendment of the United States constitution and section eight of
17 article one of the New York state constitution;
18 (f) public areas at the college or university are public forums and
19 open on the same terms to any speaker; and
20 (g) colleges and universities shall remain neutral on political or
21 public policy controversies.
22 2. The policy on free speech shall establish disciplinary procedures,
23 including a formal investigation and a hearing for faculty or students
24 who engage in conduct that materially and substantially disrupts the
25 free expression of others. Such policy shall include, but not be limited
26 to, penalties for:
27 (a) students found guilty of any violation thereof, equal to a one-
28 week suspension for a first offense, a minimum two-week suspension for a
29 second offense, a minimum suspension equal to a full semester for a
30 third offense, and expulsion for a fourth offense; and
31 (b) faculty found guilty of any violation thereof.
32 3. Each college and university shall inform incoming students about
33 the policy on free speech through programs which may include workshops,
34 seminars, discussion groups, and film presentations, in order to dissem-
35 inate information about free speech, promote discussion, encourage
36 reporting of violations of free speech, and facilitate prevention of
37 such violations. Such information shall include, but not be limited to,
39 (a) policy adopted on free speech;
40 (b) penalties for violations of free speech; and
41 (c) procedures in effect at the college or university for dealing with
42 violations of free speech.
43 4. A person whose expressive rights are infringed upon by a violation
44 of this section or the policy adopted under subdivision one of this
45 section may bring an action in a court of competent jurisdiction to
46 enjoin a violation of this section and to recover compensatory damages,
47 court costs, and attorney's fees.
48 5. Within one year of the adoption of the policy pursuant to subdivi-
49 sion one of this section and annually thereafter, the regents shall
50 issue a report to the governor, the speaker of the assembly, the tempo-
51 rary president of the senate, the minority leader of the senate, and the
52 minority leader of the assembly concerning the effectiveness of the
53 policy on free speech, number of violations, disciplinary procedures and
54 outcomes of reported violations and any other relevant information the
55 regents deem necessary.
56 § 4. This act shall take effect immediately.