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Wisconsin Lawmakers Advance Bill To Punish Students Who Disrupt Campus Speakers

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(Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, Wisconsin lawmakers advanced a bill that would allow the University of Wisconsin to suspend or expel students who repeatedly disrupt campus speakers or presentations.

The Republican-backed bill which was voted on late Wednesday night is the latest move from conservatives to crack down on disruptions they say is harming free speech on college campuses.

Republicans are concerned that conservative speakers aren’t being given equal treatment as liberal campus presenters.

via Washington Post:

The Republican-backed legislation, called the Campus Free Speech Act, is part of a national effort by conservative groups to crack down on protests intended to silence controversial speakers on liberal college campuses. Similar measures have been enacted in California, according to the AP, and are being considered in Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia and California.

Demonstrations like the one that interrupted Shapiro’s speech last fall have become an increasingly common sight at universities around the country as debate has roiled over how to curb hate speech while protecting free expression and intellectual diversity. Some demonstrations have turned violent, like the recent protests and riots in Berkeley, Calif., that shut down a planned lecture by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

After nearly four hours of debate Wednesday night, Wisconsin lawmakers approved the Campus Free Speech Act in a 61-36 vote along party lines, with no Democrats supporting it. The bill now heads to the State Senate.

Under the new legislation, students face a disciplinary hearing if they receive two or more complaints about disruptive conduct during a speech.

If a student is found responsible for “interfering with the expressive rights of others,” that student would be suspended for a minimum of one semester.

A third violation would result in expulsion.

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