‘Free-speech’ Zones: Could They Be Banned From Florida College And University Campuses?


Updated, Feb. 21, 2018: This legislation likely will not become law during the 2018 session, as a Senate committee rejected the Senate version of the bill.

Original story, Feb. 1, 2018: Soon college students in Florida may be able to exercise free speech anywhere on a state campus.

Areas at the University of Florida like Turlington Plaza or Plaza of the Americas will no longer be the only places students and visitors can make a point.

House Bill 909 will strip state schools of some of their tools used to unite in defense against controversial speech. It will end ‘free-speech’ zones and allow free speech anywhere on college and university campuses in the state of Florida. 

Critics of the bill said it goes too far when there are security concerns. But the co-sponsor of the bill Chuck Clemsons thinks otherwise.

“No one has ever gotten a bloody nose over speech,” he said.

This bill could also allow someone like Richard Spencer to sue for damages after being booed off stage. But UF faculty said it’s ironic to care so much about controversial speakers when they can disrupt operations and cost part-time staffers money.

Clemsons said that the bill leaves the courts to decide what is allowed, rather than the college administrators or student conduct codes.

Santa Fe College President Jackson Sasser said that free speech works both ways, it is the essence of a college or university.

“That person had a right in a college or a university to express that. The protesters had an equal right to say this is not who we are,” he said

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