On August 1, Texas A&M system campuses implement state required “expressive activity”, or student free speech rules.
That follows board of regents approval at this month’s meeting.
The system’s general counsel, Ray Bonilla, says campuses were already following most of the guidelines of the law that was passed last year by the legislature.
Bonilla said the system had to revise the grievance procedure for students who believe their free speech rights have been infringed.
From the Texas A&M system:
On June 10, 2019, the Governor signed SB 18, which added Section 51.9315, Protected Expression on Campus, to the Texas Education Code. This new law requires public institutions of higher education to adopt a “policy” (in system nomenclature, SB 18 requires members to adopt a rule) detailing students’ rights and responsibilities regarding expressive activity on campus. Each institution’s policy must be approved by the Board of Regents.
The law is intended to insure that all persons may peaceably assemble on campuses of institutions of higher education for expressive activities. September 1, 2019 was the effective date of this new law with a deadline of August 1, 2020 to implement the expressive activity policy required by the law.
Member academic institution chief executive officers (CEO) consulted with their provosts, deans of faculties, vice presidents of student affairs, deans of students, student conduct offices, directors of student activities, compliance offices, university police departments, and others as deemed necessary to prepare a rule for CEO approval and submission to the Office of General Counsel for legal sufficiency review.
The key features of the new law can be summarized as follows: (a) institutions are required to designate outdoor areas on campus as traditional public forums, (b) institutions may continue to impose reasonable time, place and manner restrictions (e.g., no events with loudspeakers outside academic buildings during classroom hours) for the common outdoor areas, (c) institutions must adopt expressive activity rules, including a grievance procedure that allows students who believe their free speech rights have been improperly infringed to seek recourse, (d) the institutional rules require board approval, (e) institutions must make the rules available to students and train key employees responsible for implementation; and (f) institutions must submit a report to the Governor and Legislature describing our implementation of the new law.
Click below for comments from Ray Bonilla at the May 14, 2020 Texas A&M system board of regents meeting.