Minnesota Senate Bill 1988

S.F. No. 1988, as introduced 84th Legislative Session (2005-2006) Posted on Mar 29, 2005

A bill for an act relating to higher education; enacting the Free Speech for Faculty and Students Bill of Rights; proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 135A.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: Section 1. [135A.145] [FREE SPEECH FOR FACULTY AND STUDENTS BILL OF RIGHTS.]

Subdivision 1. [CITATION.] This section shall be referred to as the Free Speech for Faculty and Students Bill of Rights.

Subd. 2. [DEFINITION.] For the purposes of this section, "faculty" means a person who is a member of the faculty of the institution or is an instructor at the institution.

Subd. 3. [POLICY REQUIRED.] The Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities shall, and the University of Minnesota is requested to, adopt a policy recognizing the following rights:

(a) The institution shall provide students with a learning environment in which the students have access to a broad range of serious scholarly opinion pertaining to the subjects of study. The fostering of a plurality of serious scholarly methodologies and perspectives shall be a significant institutional purpose. In addition, curricula and reading lists shall make students aware of the existence of dissenting scholarly sources and viewpoints.

(b) Students shall be graded solely on the basis of reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the subjects and disciplines studied and shall not be discriminated against on the basis of political, ideological, or religious beliefs.

(c) University and college administrators, student government organizations, and institutional policies, rules, or procedures shall not infringe the freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, or freedom of conscience of students and student organizations.

(d) The institution shall distribute student fee funds on a fair and equitable basis and shall maintain a posture of neutrality with respect to substantive political and religious disagreements, differences, and opinions. The selection of speakers, allocation of funds for speakers' programs, and other student activities shall observe the principles of academic freedom and promote the presentation of a diversity of opinions on intellectual matters. Except as provided by law, the institution shall not permit the obstruction of invited campus speakers or the destruction of student newspapers or campus literature promoting campus events.

(e) Faculty are free to pursue and discuss their findings and perspectives in presenting views, but shall make students aware of the existence of serious scholarly viewpoints other than their own through classroom discussion or dissemination of written materials, and shall encourage civil debate and the critical analysis of ideas in the pursuit of knowledge and truth.

(f) Faculty shall be hired, fired, promoted, or granted tenure on the basis of competence and appropriate knowledge in their field of expertise.

(g) Faculty shall not be hired, fired, promoted, granted tenure, or denied promotion or tenure on the basis of political, ideological, or religious beliefs.

(h) Faculty shall not be excluded from tenure, search, and hiring committees on the basis of political, ideological, or religious beliefs.

(i) The institution and its professional societies shall maintain a posture of organizational neutrality with respect to methods, facts, and theories which have been validated by research.

Subd. 4. [GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE.] The board of trustees of each state institution of higher education shall, and the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota is requested to, adopt a grievance procedure by which a student or faculty member may seek redress for an alleged violation of any of the rights specified by the institution's policy adopted under subdivision 3.

Subd. 5. [NOTICE OF RIGHTS.] Each board of trustees or other governing authority shall, and the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota is requested to, provide students and faculty with notice of the rights and the grievance procedure adopted under subdivisions 3 and 4 by publication in the institution's course catalog, student handbook, and Web site.