UW Board of Regents to vote on 'Freedom of Expression' policy

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Hannah Flood MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- The policy would punish students who disrupt speakers invited to campus and is similar to a bill passed by the State Assembly earlier this year.

At the Board of Regents meeting at UW Stout on Friday, the board will vote on the 'Freedom of Expression' policy. Details on that meeting can be found here.

The policy would put a policy in place that would require suspension of a student if they are found responsible for disrupting of freedom of expression two times. The third time the student would be expelled. The Board does not provide a definition for disruption of freedom of expression.

The policy would also require UW schools to address freedom of expression during freshman and transfer student orientation.

Some students like College Republicans of UW Chairman Jake Lubenow says he thinks the policy will encourage more conservative speakers to come to campus. He says he thinks, currently, a majority of speakers invited to campus lean left and when conservative speakers do visit, they are met with protest and disruption.

"All the big names that we bring in, Governor Walker, Speaker Ryan, Ron Johnson, are always going to bring protesters that are going to come in," Lubenow said.

He says he thinks that's a form of limiting speech and that it prevents students from experiencing other viewpoints.

"Ask any conservative student on campus, we know exactly what it's like to hear the opposing side and we think it's a good thing," Lubenow said.

Some students, like Kat Kerwin with Associated Students of Madison, oppose the bill. She says students should have the right to speak out against some speakers who they may find offensive.

"I do think at some point that disruption is okay if a speaker is so hateful that their speech is not promoting ideologies," Kerwin said.

She says the policy could also discourage some students from expressing their right to protest in fear of being found disruptive.

"I do think that we need to be able to continue to protest these hate speakers in a way that draws attention and acknowledges the fact that they are divisive," Kerwin said.

The Board of Regent's policy is separate from the bill circulating the State Capitol. That bill is being called the "Free Speech on Campus Act."

A spokesperson for Speaker Robin Vos, one of the authors of the bill, says, "Speaker Vos thinks it's a good first step. He is pleased that the Regents recognize the need to protect free speech on college campuses."

The bill has passed the State Assembly but has not been taken up for a vote in the Senate.

Copyright 2017: WMTV