Free speech bill for college campuses to go into effect this summer

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WEYERS CAVE, Va. (WHSV) -- Back in February, WHSV introduced you to House Bill 1401 when it passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 76 to 19.

The bill, introduced by local delegate Steve Landes, prohibits public institutions of higher education from taking away the freedom of any individual, including enrolled students, faculty and invited guests.

Governor Terry McAuliffe has now signed the bill, which will go into effect on July 1.

Blue Ridge Community College said this bill won't change much on its campus, since there's already a number of policies in place that promote free thinking and self-expression.

"Those two things are really two of the most important parts of any education. So being able to say 'yes we want you to talk we want you to express yourself', is exactly what our job is here," said Dr. Bob Young, vice president of instruction and student services at BRCC.

Young added the bill will offer added protection to the speakers and groups the Cultural Affairs Committee invites to campus.

Years ago, BRCC adopted an Expressive Activity procedure, as part of the Virginia Community College System, to ensure the protection and promotion of free speech on campus.

For more information on House Bill 1401, you can click on the link provided in the 'Related Links' section.

Here is Del. Steve Landes' statement on the passage of the bill:

“This bill safeguards speech on our campuses and guarantees that our students are exposed to a wide variety of ideas and opinions and afforded the opportunity to express themselves as well,” said Landes. “Our institutions of higher education should encourage healthy debate and prevent censorship of contrary viewpoints or perceived controversial speech. I am pleased that Governor McAuliffe approved this legislation, ensuring free and open debate for our institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth.”