College Republicans invite free-speech speaker

Justin Hall, Correspondent

Georgia Southern’s College Republicans welcomed a guest speaker to discuss free speech on college campuses Tuesday.

Andrew Lawrence, the Grassroots Engagement Director for the Americans For Prosperity spoke on behalf of the organization. He discussed in detail about the Forum Act which stands for Forming Open and Robust University Minds Act. 

“It is what we consider the premiere campus free speech bill in this country,” said Lawrence. 

Lawrence went on to emphasize the importance of higher education as marketplaces of ideas for students. They can encounter new ideas and opinions, giving them the opportunity to debate or change their stance.

“Higher education is the space where scholars can teach the next generation of leaders to think critically and engage with a range of perspectives to find solutions to society’s persistent challenges,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence then showcased a holding from the Supreme Court case of Healy vs. James laid the foundation for the AFP’s stance on free speech particularly on college campuses. The precedents of this court left no room for the view that First Amendment protections should apply with less force on college campuses than in the community at large. 

“The protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools,” said Lawrence. Lawrence then showed a video of MLK on how and why he went to jail and how his significant impact on free speech changed the nation and its policies on said subject. 

Lawrence referenced studies by the Knight Foundation which says around two-thirds of students believe that the climate on their campus prevents them from expressing their views.