RESTORE/PRESERVE CAMPUS FREE SPEECH.

View NCGA Bill Details2017-2018 Session
House Bill 527 (Public) Filed Wednesday, March 29, 2017
AN ACT TO RESTORE AND PRESERVE FREE SPEECH ON THE CAMPUSES OF THE CONSTITUENT INSTITUTIONS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA.
Intro. by Millis, Jordan.

Status: Ch. SL 2017-196 (House Action) (Jul 31 2017)

SOG comments (1):

Identical bill

Identical to S 507, filed 3/29/17.

H 527/S.L. 2017-196

Bill Summaries:

  • Summary date: Aug 3 2017 - More information

    AN ACT TO RESTORE AND PRESERVE FREE SPEECH ON THE CAMPUSES OF THE CONSTITUENT INSTITUTIONS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA. Enacted July 31, 2017. Effective June 30, 2017.


  • Summary date: Jun 27 2017 - More information

    Senate committee substitute makes the following changes to the 3rd edition.

    Amends proposed GS 116-300, requiring the UNC Board of Governors to adopt a policy on free expression that includes access to campus for purposes of free speech and expression that are consistent with First Amendment jurisprudence regarding traditional public forums, designated public forums, and nonpublic forums, subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions (previously, specifically designated park areas, sidewalks, plazas, and other similar places on constituent institution campuses as traditional public forums open on the same terms to any speaker, and designating other areas of the campuses as nonpublic forums consistent with First Amendment Jurisprudence).

    Amends proposed GS 116-301(b), deleting the provision excepting from information requests by the Committee on Free Expression requested information required to be kept confidential by other provisions of State or federal law. 

    Corrects the statutory reference in proposed GS 116-303 (Guidelines and additional policies authorized).

    Changes the liability limitations set out in proposed GS 116-304, deleting the provision establishing immunity for the UNC System or a constituent institution for relocating or restricting expressive activity permitted by the act following a reasonable determination that there exists an articulable and significant threat to the health and safety of other individuals, or that the continuing or functioning of campus operations cannot be reasonably remedied except by relocating or restricting expressive activity.


  • Summary date: Apr 25 2017 - More information

    House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 2nd edition.

    Modifies proposed GS 116-301(b), which requires UNC System employees and State agencies to cooperate with the Committee on Free Expression by providing information requested by the Committee, to except from the requirement information that is required to be kept confidential under State or federal law. 


  • Summary date: Apr 24 2017 - More information

    House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 1st edition.

    Amends proposed GS 116-300 by modifying some of the policies required to be adopted by the UNC Board of Governors (BOG) relating to free expression. Prohibits constituent institutions from taking action as an institution on public policy controversies in a way that requires students, faculty, or administrators to publicly express a given view of social policy (previously did not include administrators). Establishes that park areas, sidewalks, plazas, and similar spaces on campuses of the constituent institutions are traditional public forums, open on the same terms to any speaker. Establishes that other areas of the campuses of the constituent institutions are nonpublic forums consistent with First Amendment jurisprudence. Provides that campuses of constituent institutions are open to any speaker whom students, student groups, or members of the faculty are invited, consistent with First Amendment Jurisprudence, including reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions adopted by the institution. Requires the constituent institution to implement a range of disciplinary actions for anyone under the jurisdiction of the institution who substantially disrupts the functioning of the institution or substantially interferes with the protected free expression rights of others, including protests and demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in and listen to expressive activity when the expressive activity has been scheduled pursuant to this policy or is located in a nonpublic forum. Adds to the policy concerning student disciplinary cases to expand the policy to include cases for expressive speech (previously only covered expressive conduct), and adds that the right to active assistance of counsel provided for in the policy must be consistent with GS 116-40.11.

    Adds a new provision to proposed GS 116-301, directing the BOG to establish the Committee on Free Expression, providing that the public reporting requirement can be met by publishing the report on the UNC System's website. 

    Amends proposed GS 116-303, which permits constituent institutions to restrict student expression for expressive activity not protected by the First Amendment. Modifies and adds to the list of expressive activity not protected by the First Amendment which constituent institutions can restrict as follows. Eliminates the descriptions of the types of harassment and instead lists unlawful harassment as an activity that can be restricted. Permits reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on expressive activities consistent with GS 116-300(3) (previously, permitted narrowly tailored restrictions of the same). Adds a new provision to permit the restriction of speech that interferes with the treatment of patients. 

    Renames proposed GS 116-304 to Limitations of liability (previously, Actions to enforce the provisions of this Article). Deletes subsections (a) through (d) pertaining to bringing an action against a constituent institution for a violation of the statute. Expands the immunity provisions to now provide immunity from personal liability for any chancellor, officer, employee, or member of the Board of Trustees of a constituent institution or the President, office, employee, or member of the BOG for acts taken pursuant to their official duties. Also establishes immunity for the UNC System or a constituent institution for relocating or restricting expressive activity permitted by the act following a reasonable determination that there exists an articulable and significant threat to the health and safety or other individuals, or that the continuing or functioning of campus operations cannot be reasonably remedied except by relocating or restricting expressive activity.

    Deletes the requirement for a policy assigning duty of ensuring compliance to the institutions' diversity office and instead requires a policy requiring each constituent institution to identify the officer, office, or department responsible for compliance. 


  • Summary date: Mar 29 2017 - More information

    Contains whereas clauses.

    Enacts new GS Chapter 116, Article 36, directing the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina to adopt a policy on free expression that states, at least, nine listed policy positions, including that the proper role of constituent institutions is not to shield individuals from speech protected by the First Amendment, and that constituent institutions shall strive to remain neutral on, and may not take action on, public controversies, as an institution, and providing disciplinary sanctions for anyone under the constituent institution's jurisdiction who interferes with the free expression of others.

    Directs the Board of Governors to establish an 11-member Committee on Free Expression (Committee) from its membership. Directs all employees of the University of North Carolina and all State agencies to cooperate with the Committee, and directs the Committee to report to the public, the Board of Governors, the Governor, and the General Assembly by September 1 of each year, on four specified pieces of information, including descriptions of barriers to or disruptions of free expression within the constituent institutions.

    Directs constituent institutions to include a description of free expression policies in freshman orientation programs.

    Authorizes the Board of Governors and the constituent institutions, subject to approval by the Board of Governors, to adopt additional policies and guidelines to further the purposes of the policies required by this Article. Constituent institutions may only restrict student expression for expressive activity not protected by the First Amendment. Lists seven unprotected forms of speech that may be restricted, including peer-on-peer harassment, defined as conduct directed by a student toward another individual student that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively deprives the victim of access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by the university.

    Provides that constituent institutions may only restrict expressive conduct in the public area of campus if the restriction is necessary to achieve a compelling governmental interest, is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest, leaves open ample other opportunities to engage in the conduct, and provides for spontaneous assembly and distribution of literature. Authorizes the Attorney General or any person whose expressive rights are violated under this statute to bring an action against the constituent institution to enjoin the violation. Provides for damages, court costs, and attorneys' fees, and a one-year statute of limitations. Provides that chancellors, other officials, or other employees of constituent institutions are not personally liable for acts taken pursuant to their official duties.

    Directs the Board of Governors to develop a policy that requires diversity offices or departments of constituent institutions to ensure compliance with this act, including re-naming the department or office to include the phrase "free speech compliance." Requires diversity and free speech compliance officers to receive training developed and provided by the University of North Carolina School of Government.

    Effective June 30, 2017. The Committee on Free Expression's first report is due by September 1, 2018.


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