America went through a period of social change beginning in the 1960s. During that time, left-wing thought and speakers on college campuses led the charge. Now, society has changed so much that conservative or moderate thought is unwelcome on many college campuses. What once were places where diverse ideas were encouraged have become the opposite, where a so-called spirit of inclusiveness is missing.
Enter Arizona House Bill 2238, sponsored by Peoria Republican Rep. Anthony Kern, which would mean new rules for speakers at the state’s public universities. The Board of Regents would establish an Office of Public Policy Events at each university. It would oversee the staging of debates, lectures and discussions. Recording of the events would be required, with online availability for five years. A public calendar would be required with past and future events.
Kern did not come up with the bill on a whim. It was written by Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank and advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. Calling liberal bias a national problem on campuses, he told The Arizona Republic students often are not hearing from both sides.
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union has objected, saying some aspects such as the recording would violate students’ First Amendment Rights.
Kern five years ago sponsored a bill, which became law, designating entire campuses as free speech areas. That should be obvious, but reports of intolerance on some U.S. campuses have been widespread for years now. This has led many Americans to feel that colleges frequently are money-gobbling institutions that provide nothing they want for their children, but instead the exact opposite. Arizona’s colleges generally have a better perception from mainstream citizens, however.
Kern’s bill deserves consideration. It may not be perfect, but some improvements in higher education clearly are needed. This would be a good start.