Despite University System of Georgia Opposition, Rep. Josh Bonner Says He Expects Legislators to Pass Bill Granting Free Speech Rights to College Students


Georgia State Representative Josh Bonner (R-Fayetteville) said this week that University System of Georgia officials oppose a bill he’s submitted that would, if enacted into law, bestow students with greater First Amendment rights.

“The [University System of Georgia] officials are very opposed to it,” Bonner told The Georgia Star News.

“They dislike people telling them what to do, and they claim that there are no issues regarding free speech on our campuses. Yet every year we have at least one lawsuit that says differently.”

Officials with the University System of Georgia did not return a request for comment before Tuesday’s stated deadline.

Bonner named the bill the Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act.

Bonner said school administrators currently grant students their First Amendment rights only in designated areas. School administrators thus control speech on campus, he said.

Bonner said last year that his bill would eliminate a school’s free speech zones, eliminate a school’s speech codes, and protect students’ freedoms of assembly.

“It says that essentially the entire campus — the common areas — are the free speech zones, not the two foot by two foot square behind the parking deck at the student center. Everywhere on campus,” Bonner said at the time.

“There is some common sense built into it. You can’t stand up in the middle of a class and yell whatever. You can’t run onto the football field. We are talking about places normally accessible by students. All the open areas. The quad and those kinds of places, essentially the common areas on that campus. That would be where students could exercise their First Amendment rights. They would not be restricted to a certain spot on a piece of ground or a certain time of day they could exercise those rights.”

Bonner said this week that the bill moved out of the Georgia General Assembly’s Rules Committee last year.

“I expect we will get it through the House this session. If we can get it through the House then I have every expectation we can get it through the Senate,” Bonner said.

“This is definitely a good year for that. We have a lot of support.”

– – –

Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star and The Georgia Star News. Follow Chris on Facebook, Twitter, Parler, and GETTR. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Josh Bonner” by Josh Bonner. 




Related posts