AAUP calls campus free speech bills a right-wing conspiracy

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is urging its thousands of members to challenge campus free speech legislation, which it calls “problematic” and “unnecessary.” 

The AAUP—by far the largest membership group of college professors in the United States, with more than 500 campus chapters—takes aim at the ongoing trend in its new campaign against “unnecessary ‘free-speech’ legislation,” which is part of a larger "One Faculty, One Resistance" effort through which the AAUP hopes to rally opposition to conservative initiatives in higher education.

While bills to support free speech vary by state, the AAUP worries that common features include forbidding the cancellation of controversial speakers and requiring schools to educate students on First Amendment rights during orientation.

[RELATED: Louisiana gov reverses course, signs campus free speech bill]

Framing free speech legislation as a “right-wing” conspiracy, the AAUP also complains that such bills often establish mandatory minimum penalties for students who are repeatedly found guilty of infringing on others’ free speech, as well as allowing students to sue if their First Amendment rights have been trampled. 

“Campus free-speech legislation is one piece of a much larger well-funded, right-wing effort to disempower public higher education in the United States,” the AAUP tells members in a primer on the subject. 

The campaign also encourages professors to call their state legislators, providing a template script calling the campus free speech initiative a “solution in search of a problem” that ultimately “distracts from critical campus issues of health, safety, and equity.” 

[RELATED: Heritage promotes Goldwater bill to protect free speech on campus]

The campaign was announced by AAUP Political Organizer Monica Owens in a recent Facebook Live video. While Owens doesn’t exactly express any qualms with free speech itself, she does warn that free speech is a “conservative” effort. 

“So, why are these bills so problematic?” Owens asks, answering that there are “provisions in these bills that require minimum penalties for the impingement of other’s free speech.” 

For students who shout down speakers or otherwise prevent them from talking, the

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