The state legislature has killed the academic bill of rights for
the time being.
For now, Colorado universities will remain in charge of
protecting diverse viewpoints on their campuses.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, said he
decided to shelve the bill because university presidents stepped
forward and agreed to ensure their policies protect political
diversity. They said professors are aware of and open to all
“I appreciate (CSU President Larry Penley’s) leadership in
reviewing policies and procedures and making sure the university
provides a fair and open forum for all viewpoints,” Mitchell
House Bill 1315 would have required state universities to
implement changes in their grievance procedures for students who
felt they were being politically harassed or discriminated against
in the classroom.
Tom Milligan, assistant vice president for University Relations,
said the suspension of the bill is a positive step.
“The outcome is that as an institution of higher learning, we
are committed and continue to be committed to supporting freedom of
expression, a wide spectrum of political views and the First
Amendment,” Milligan said.
Bill Chaloupka, chair of the political science department, said
the university’s current policies against political discrimination
are stronger than the bill itself.
“The university had made the argument from the beginning that we
do have policies in place,” Chaloupka said. “The result in
legislature reaffirmed what we have been saying.”
Chaloupka was skeptical of any outside motives to the proposed
bill. He spoke with the CSU College Republicans and thought they
had good intentions, but he said he was worried about the motives
of those outside of CSU.
“I was concerned that some of the proponents around the state
were using this to some political advantage and not out of the best
interest of the universities,” Chaloupka said.
The bill could be reintroduced next year if any current problems
students experience are not resolved. For now, protecting students’
viewpoints is in state higher education institutions’ hands.
Universities have already agreed to ensure their grievance
procedures address political diversity and are making efforts to
inform students of the process.
“I’m hoping schools will take steps to make it unnecessary to
reintroduce the bill,” Mitchell said.
Robert Lee, a senior at CSU and the state vice chairman for the
College Republicans, strongly supported the bill but said he agreed
that its suspension is good.
“It shows that the state legislature trusts the universities to
do the right thing,” Lee said.
Lee said CSU has discrimination procedures already in place, but
it can improve on educating students of them.
Part of this can be done through student organizations such as
Students for Academic Freedom.
If the bill is brought up again, Lee said he would support it
even more because it would mean universities are unable to handle
the issue on their own.