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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

SF 1595

as introduced - 91st Legislature (2019 - 2020) Posted on 02/21/2019 03:16pm

KEY: stricken = removed, old language.
underscored = added, new language.

Current Version - as introduced

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A bill for an act
relating to higher education; requiring MnSCU and requesting the University of
Minnesota create a free expression policy, including a disciplinary policy for free
expression violations; requiring MnSCU and requesting the University of Minnesota
submit a report on free expression on their campuses; proposing coding for new
law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 135A.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1.

new text begin [135A.70] FREE EXPRESSION POLICY.
new text end

new text begin Subdivision 1. new text end

new text begin Free expression policy. new text end

new text begin (a) The Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State
Colleges and Universities shall, and the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota
is requested to, adopt a policy on free expression that contains at least the following
provisions.
new text end

new text begin (b) The primary function of an institution of higher education is the discovery,
improvement, transmission, and dissemination of knowledge by means of research, teaching,
discussion, and debate. To fulfill this function, the institution must strive to ensure the fullest
degree of intellectual freedom and free expression.
new text end

new text begin (c) It is not the proper role of the institution to shield individuals or groups from speech
protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Minnesota
Constitution, article I, section 3, including ideas and opinions that may be considered
controversial, disagreeable, or offensive.
new text end

new text begin (d) Students, faculty, and staff have the freedom to discuss any issue or problem that
presents itself, within the limits of content-neutral and viewpoint-neutral restrictions on
time, place, and manner of expression provided that these restrictions are clear, published,
and provide ample alternative means of expression. Students, faculty, and staff shall be
permitted to assemble and engage in spontaneous expressive activity as long as such activity
is not unlawful and does not materially and substantially disrupt the functioning of the
institution. Students, faculty, and staff are free to take positions on all issues. Students,
faculty, and staff may not be required to express specified viewpoints as a condition of
enrollment, employment, or as part of a course requirement.
new text end

new text begin (e) The campuses of the institution are open to speakers whom students, student groups,
or members of the faculty or staff have invited.
new text end

new text begin (f) The public areas of campuses of the institution are public forums and any person
lawfully present on campus may protest or demonstrate there. Protests and demonstrations
that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity shall not
be permitted.
new text end

new text begin (g) A public institution of higher education shall strive to remain neutral, as an institution,
on the political and public policy controversies of the day, except insofar as administrative
decisions on such issues are essential to the day-to-day functioning of the institution.
new text end

new text begin (h) Nothing in the policy statement shall be construed to prohibit professors or other
instructors from maintaining order in the classroom.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 2. new text end

new text begin New student orientation. new text end

new text begin The Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges
and Universities shall, and the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota is requested
to, include in new student orientation programs a section describing the policies and
regulations regarding free expression consistent with this section.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Permissible regulations. new text end

new text begin Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent
institutions from regulating student speech or activity that is prohibited by law. Except as
further limited by statute, institutions shall be allowed to restrict student expression only
for expressive activity not protected by the First Amendment of the United States
Constitution, including violations of state or federal law.
new text end

Sec. 2.

new text begin [135A.72] DISCIPLINARY POLICY ON FREE EXPRESSION.
new text end

new text begin The Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities shall, and the
Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota is requested to, adopt a policy that provides
disciplinary sanctions for anyone under the jurisdiction of the institution who materially
and substantially interferes with the free expression of others. The Board of Trustees of the
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities shall, and the Board of Regents of the University
of Minnesota is requested to, include the following provisions in such a policy:
new text end

new text begin (1) in all disciplinary cases involving expressive conduct, students are entitled to a
disciplinary hearing under published procedures, including, at minimum: (i) the right to
receive advanced written notice of the charges; (ii) the right to review the evidence in support
of the charges; (iii) the right to confront witnesses against them; (iv) the right to present a
defense; (v) the right to call witnesses; (vi) a decision by an impartial arbiter or panel; and
(vii) the right of appeal;
new text end

new text begin (2) any student who has twice been found responsible for infringing the expressive rights
of others will be suspended for a minimum of one year or expelled; and
new text end

new text begin (3) when suspension for longer than 30 days or expulsion are potential penalties, students
are entitled to active assistance of counsel.
new text end

Sec. 3. new text beginFREE EXPRESSION REPORT.
new text end

new text begin (a) The Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities shall, and
the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota is requested to, submit a report to the
members of the legislative committees with jurisdiction over higher education, the governor,
and the commissioner of the Office of Higher Education no later than February 1, 2020.
new text end

new text begin (b) The report shall include:
new text end

new text begin (1) a description of any barriers to or disruptions of free expression within the respective
state institutions of higher education;
new text end

new text begin (2) a description of the administrative handling and discipline relating to these disruptions
or barriers; and
new text end

new text begin (3) a description of substantial difficulties, controversies, or successes in maintaining a
posture of administrative and institutional neutrality with regard to political, public policy,
or social issues.
new text end

new text begin (c) The commissioner of the Office of Higher Education shall make the report publicly
available on the website of the Office of Higher Education.
new text end