ABOR Legislation

What follows is a partial list of states in which legislation related to "academic bills of rights" was introduced.

Arizona

The Arizona Senate rejected SB 1331, which would have required community colleges and universities to provide an alternative course, alternative coursework, alternative learning materials or alternative activity." The original language defined acceptable objections on the part of students to situations where "the course, coursework, learning material, or activity conflicts with the student's beliefs or practices in sex, morality or religion." This version passed the Senate Higher Education Committee on a 5-2 vote, but then was amended in the Rules committee to "narrow" the criteria for student's finding work "offensive." The new language narrowed that to materials "depicts or describes sexual activity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, sadomasochistic abuse or nudity in a patently offensive way." The full Senate voted to kill the bill 17-12.

California

Legislation was introduced in 2004, but was defeated. A bill was reintroduced in 2005. SB 5 was heard by the Education Committee on April 20; the bill was defeated by a vote of 6 - 4 against. The California AAUP Conference was very active and visible in its opposition to this legislation. Visit the California conference's website for a comparison of the two bills, articles, and action suggestions, including the conference's response  (.doc) to SB 5. 

In 2006, California S 1412, (.pdf) requests the Regents of the University of California and directs the Trustees of the California State University and the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, to develop guidelines and implement specified principles relating to academic freedom; a Student Bill of Rights. The relating clause is identical to last year's S. 5, which was rejected by the Education Committee. To qualify as a new bill, S. 1412 also "requires audiotaping of all meetings pertaining to faculty hiring, promotion and tenure."  This bill was scheduled for a hearing April 19, 2006, but was withdrawn at request of sponsor.

Colorado

Legislation was set aside last year in favor of a "memorandum of understanding" among the presidents of the state's major public colleges and universities.

Florida

Florida HB 837 (.pdf) addressed student and faculty academic freedom in public institutions of postsecondary education. The bill was passed the Education Committee, but officially died on the House Calendar on May 6, 2005.

Georgia

In 2004, the Georgia Senate approved a resolution based on the Academic Bill of Rights, but the final text was significantly altered for the better due to lobbying by AAUP members in the state.

Hawaii

  • SB 2849 sought to establish an Academic Bill of Rights applicable to all institutions of higher education in the state. The bill failed.

Indiana

  • Indiana House Bill No. 1531, Academic Bill of Rights at State Universities. The bill sought to require the board of trustees at public colleges and universities to develop guidelines and implement an academic bill of rights. The Indiana AAUP conference organized opposition to the legislation, which died when the legislature adjourned.

Kansas

The Kansas House Committee on Appropriations held a hearing on March 15, 2006 to consider HCR 5035 (.pdf), expressing the sense of the legislature that public colleges and univerities in Kansas adopt an "Academic Bill of Rights." Joe Yanik, president of the Kansas Conference and professor of mathematics at Emporia State University testified on behalf of AAUP and distributed the Committee A statement on the Academic Bill of Rights. David Horowitz also testified in favor of the resolution and spent much of his time attacking womens' studies programs in particular.

Louisiana

  • HCR 25 (.pdf) requested each public postsecondary education management board to take certain actions to assure that board and institutional policies, rules, and procedures meet specified guidelines relative to intellectual independence, academic freedom, intellectual diversity, and the pursuit of knowledge and truth.  The bill died when the legislature adjourned.

Maine

  • Maine LD 1194 (.pdf) sought to creates an Academic Bill of Rights that ensures an academic environment for both students and faculty members that allows freedom of political viewpoint, expression and instruction. On May 20, 2005, the Senate adopted the Majority Committee report: "Ought not to pass".

Maryland

A bill introduced on February 10, 2005 in the Maryland legislature was broader than most previously introduced examples. The Committee on Appropriations reported unfavorably on March 28, and the bill failed when the legislature adjourned.

Massachusetts

  • HB 1234 (.pdf) would apply only to public institutions. A hearing was held January 18, 2006. Was sent to the joint education committee in April 2006, but no further action has been taken.

Minnesota

  • HB 2164 / SB 1988 proposed the Free Speech for Faculty and Students Bill of Rights. Failed when the legislature adjourned.

Missouri

The Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill (H 213) which ostensibly “ensure[s] intellectual diversity and the free exchange of ideas."  The AAUP opposes this bill because it threatens to impose legislative oversight on the professional judgment of faculty and to deprive academic institutions of their authority from making decisions that are central to their academic purpose. 

New York

  • Assembly Bill 4389 provides for a student bill of rights and addresses the issue of student activity fees and is in Committee on Higher Education. The bill is bottled up in the committee. The SUNY Board considered a move to adopt the ABoR as policy, but declined to do so. However, the Board has established a committee to look into the issue again.
  • S. 6336 (.pdf) was introduced Jan 9, 2006 and referred to Committee on Higher Education.  The bill creates an academic bill of rights for both students and faculty, but no further action has been taken.
  • New York AB 10098, also proposed creating an academic bill of rights.  In addition to ensuring an academic environment “in which the student has access to a broad range of serious scholarly opinion” the bill mandates that governing boards of institutions of higher education “develop institutional guidelines and policies to protect the academic freedom and the rights of students and faculty.” The bill was introduced February 28, 2006and  referred to Committee on Education. 

North Carolina

  • North Carolina SB1139 (.pdf), would have requires each constituent institution of the university of North Carolina to adopt an "academic bill of rights."  It was sent to the Committee on Education and Higher Education, but failed when Legislature adjourned in 2005.

Ohio

The Ohio legislature considered a bill that closely resembles David Horowitz's earliest proposals. In early September, the legislation was withdrawn after administrators of public colleges and universities agreed to address related issues as needed.  Read the AAUP press release. (9/17/05) Read the Ohio University Faculty Senate Resolution.

Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed Pennsylvania HR 177 (.pdf) establishing a select committee to study related issues. The bill passed on July 7, 2005, and the Committee began meeting on September 19 and held hearings on November 9 and 10, 2005 on the University of Pittsburgh campus, and January 9 and 10, 2006 on the Temple University campus in Philadelphia.  The committee also held two additional hearings in Harrisburg in March and May, 2006.  The Committee  submitted its final report to the full House in November 2006, in which it determined that there was no evidence of problems with in the Pennsylvania system, and that mechanisms are in place to address any problems that may arise in the future.

Temple Hearings: 

The Pennsylvania House Select Committee on Student Academic Freedom held its second set of hearings on the academic atmosphere in the commonwealth on January 9 and 10 on the campus of Temple University in Philadelphia. Dr. Robert O’Neil, Director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for Free Expression and former chair of AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure testified along with Temple University President David Adamany, AFT Vice President and United University Professionals President William Scheuerman,  Temple Association of University Professionals President William Cutler,American Council of Trustees and Alumni President Anne Neal.

Pittsburgh Hearings:

On Wednesday November 9 and Thursday November 10, 2005, AAUP leaders testified before the first public hearings of the Pennsylvania House Select Committee on Student Academic Freedom on the University of Pittsburgh campus.  The committee heard from a total of six scheduled witnesses over the two days in addition to several individuals who spoke during the public comment times set aside at the end of each day’s proceedings. On Wednesday, Dr. Joan Wallach Scott delivered a statement on behalf of the national AAUP, and Dr. Robert Moore delivered a statement on behalf of the state division of AAUP.  In addition Dr. Lisa D. Brush, President of United Faculty, the AAUP chapter at the University of Pittsburgh delivered a statement during the public comment time on Wednesday.  

Rhode Island

  • S. 392 was introduced in the Rhode Island Senate to direct the Board of Governors for Higher Education to adopt an academic bill of rights. Committee recommended that the measure be held for further study. 

South Dakota

On Thursday, February 23, 2006, the South Dakota State Senate defeated a dangerous intrusion into the academic freedom of colleges and universities.  The bill, HB 1222 (.pdf), would have required South Dakota's public universities to annually report to the legislature regarding intellectual diversity.  This legislation had been pushed by outside forces bemoaning an alleged liberal bias on college campuses.

Specifically, the bill would have mandated that public institutions “annually report to the legislature detailing the steps the institution is taking to ensure intellectual diversity and the free exchange of ideas. For purposes of this chapter, intellectual diversity is defined as the foundation of a learning environment that exposes students to a variety of political, ideological, and other perspectives.”

The bill, which had passed the House earlier this month, failed in the Senate by a vote of 18 – 15, because senators listened to arguments that the bill was both unnecessary and intrusive.  Existing policies that protect students are already in place, and government mandated reports on intellectual diversity would violate basic academic freedom.

Tennessee

  • House Joint Resolution 96 on Public Higher Education. The resolution urged adoption of Academic Bill of Rights for Public Higher Education. Companion bills SB1117/HB0432 were referred to committee, but died when the legislature adjourned.

Washington

  • Washington HB 1991 drafted an academic bill of rights. The bill quoted extensively from AAUP statements. It failed when the legislature adjourned.

(Updated 4/07)