2017 - 2018 LEGISLATURE
May 5, 2017 - Introduced by Representatives Kremer, Vos, Murphy, Allen,
Brandtjen, R. Brooks, Duchow, Horlacher, Hutton, Katsma, Kleefisch,
Knodl, Kooyenga, Kuglitsch, Kulp, Mursau, Petersen, Quinn, Rohrkaste,
Sanfelippo, Skowronski, Spiros, Tauchen, Thiesfeldt, Tittl, Tusler,
Vorpagel and Wichgers, cosponsored by Senators Harsdorf, Craig, Kapenga,
Lasee and Stroebel. Referred to Committee on Colleges and Universities.
AB299,1,4 1An Act to amend 36.35 (1); and to create 36.02 and 227.01 (13) (Lo) of the
2statutes; relating to: free expression within the University of Wisconsin
3System, providing an exemption from rule-making procedures, and granting
4rule-making authority.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill requires the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System
to adopt a policy on free expression that applies at the four-year and two-year
institutions of the system and supersedes and nullifies any prior Board of Regents
or institution policies or rules restricting free expression. The bill allows the Board
of Regents to adopt the policy without promulgating rules and requires the policy to
be adopted no later than 120 days after the bill's effective date. The policy must
contain statements regarding the following: 1) that the primary function of an
institution is the discovery, improvement, transmission, and dissemination of
knowledge; 2) that it is not the proper role of an institution to shield individuals from
speech protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution; 3) that students
and faculty have the freedom to discuss any problem as permitted by the First
Amendment and within specified limits; 4) that any person lawfully present on
campus may protest or demonstrate, but that protests and demonstrations that
interfere with the expressive rights of others are subject to sanction; 5) that
campuses are open to invited speakers; 6) that public areas are public forums and
open on the same terms to any speaker; and 7) that institutions must remain neutral
on public policy controversies.

The policy must include a range of disciplinary sanctions for anyone under an
institution's jurisdiction who engages in violent, abusive, indecent, profane,
boisterous, obscene, unreasonably loud, or other disorderly conduct that interferes
with the free expression of others. In addition, the policy must provide that in
disciplinary cases involving expressive conduct, students are entitled to a
disciplinary hearing under published procedures that include specified rights. Also,
the second time that a student is found responsible for interfering with the
expressive rights of others, the policy must require the student to be suspended for
a minimum of one semester or expelled.
The bill also provides that institutions may restrict student expression only for
expressive activity that is not protected by the First Amendment, including state or
federal law violations, defamation, specified types of harassment and threats,
certain invasions of privacy or confidentiality, and violations of reasonable time,
place, or manner restrictions on expressive activities.
The bill also requires the Board of Regents to appoint a council on free
expression to make annual reports to the Board of Regents, legislature, and governor
that describe institutional neutrality, free expression barriers and disruptions, and
administrative handling and discipline relating to those barriers and disruptions.
The council must consist of 13 members who represent each four-year university and
the chairpersons of the assembly and senate standing committees with jurisdiction
over universities.
The bill also does the following:
1. Allows a person whose expressive rights are violated by a violation of the
bill's requirements to bring an action to enjoin a violation.
2. Sets forth legislative findings regarding free expression at the institutions
of the UW system.
3. Requires institutions to describe free expression policies and rules in
freshman orientation programs.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
AB299,1 1Section 1. 36.02 of the statutes is created to read:
AB299,2,3 236.02 Campus Free Speech Act. (1) Legislative findings. The legislature
3finds all of the following:
AB299,2,54 (a) Article I, section 3, of the Wisconsin Constitution recognizes the right to
5speak freely and prohibits laws abridging the liberty of speech.
AB299,2,76 (b) The system has historically embraced a commitment to freedom of
7expression in policy.
1(c) In recent years, institutions have abdicated their responsibility to uphold
2free speech principles and these failures make it appropriate for the system to restate
3and confirm its commitment in this regard.
AB299,3,124 (d) In 1974, the Committee on Free Expression at Yale issued a statement
5known as the Woodward Report that stands as a classic defense of free expression
6on campuses; in 2015, the Committee on Freedom of Expression at the University
7of Chicago issued a similar and widely respected report; and in 1967, the Kalven
8Committee Report of the University of Chicago articulated the principle of
9institutional neutrality regarding political and social issues and the essential role of
10such neutrality in protecting freedom of thought and expression at universities. The
11principles affirmed by these 3 highly regarded reports are inspiring articulations of
12the critical importance of free expression in higher education.
AB299,3,1513 (e) The legislature views freedom of expression as being of critical importance
14and requires that each institution ensure free, robust, and uninhibited debate and
15deliberation by students whether on or off campus.
AB299,3,1716 (f) The legislature has determined that it is a matter of statewide concern that
17all institutions officially recognize freedom of speech as a fundamental right.
AB299,3,18 18(2) Short title. This section shall be known as the “Campus Free Speech Act.”
AB299,3,19 19(3) Definitions. In this section:
AB299,3,2020 (a) “Institution” means a college campus or university.
AB299,4,221 (b) “Peer-on-peer harassment” means conduct directed by one student
22towards another individual student, on the basis of that other student's race, color,
23creed, religion, political views, sex, national origin, disability, ancestry, age, sexual
24orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, marital status, parental status, or military
25status, that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively

1deprives the victim of access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by
2an institution.
AB299,4,73 (c) “Quid pro quo sexual harassment” means explicitly or implicitly
4conditioning a student's participation in an education program or activity or basing
5an educational decision on the student's submission to unwelcome sexual advances,
6requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual
AB299,4,138 (d) “True threat” means a statement that a speaker would reasonably foresee
9that a listener would reasonably interpret as a serious expression of a purpose to
10inflict harm, as distinguished from hyperbole, jest, innocuous talk, expressions of
11political views, or other speech that is similarly protected under the First
12Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, regardless of whether the speaker has the
13ability to carry out the threat.
AB299,4,17 14(4) Free expression policy. (a) Statements. No later than 120 days after the
15effective date of this paragraph .... [LRB inserts date], the Board of Regents shall
16develop and adopt a policy on free expression that contains statements of at least all
17the following:
AB299,4,2218 1. That the primary function of an institution is the discovery, improvement,
19transmission, and dissemination of knowledge by means of research, teaching,
20discussion, and debate. This statement shall provide that, to fulfill this function, an
21institution must strive to ensure the fullest degree of intellectual freedom and free
AB299,4,2523 2. That it is not the proper role of an institution to shield individuals from
24speech protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, including ideas
25and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.
13. That students and faculty have the freedom to discuss any problem that
2presents itself, as the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution permits and within
3the limits of reasonable viewpoint-neutral and content-neutral restrictions on time,
4place, and manner of expression that are consistent with this section and that are
5necessary to achieve a significant institutional interest, provided that these
6restrictions are clear, published, and provide ample alternative means of expression.
7Students and faculty shall be permitted to assemble and engage in spontaneous
8expressive activity as long as such activity is not unlawful and does not materially
9and substantially disrupt the functioning of an institution, subject to the
10requirements of this section.
AB299,5,1511 4. That any person lawfully present on campus may protest or demonstrate
12there. This statement shall make clear that protests and demonstrations that
13interfere with the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity shall
14not be permitted and shall be subject to sanction. This statement shall not prohibit
15professors or other instructors from maintaining order in the classroom.
AB299,5,1716 5. That the campuses of the institution are open to any speaker whom students,
17student groups, or members of the faculty have invited.
AB299,5,1918 6. That the public areas of institutions are public forums and open on the same
19terms to any speaker.
AB299,5,2320 7. That each institution shall strive to remain neutral, as an institution, on the
21public policy controversies of the day, and may not take action, as an institution, on
22the public policy controversies of the day in such a way as to require students or
23faculty to publicly express a given view of social policy.
AB299,5,2524 (b) Discipline. The policy required under par. (a) shall satisfy all of the
11. Include a range of disciplinary sanctions for anyone under the jurisdiction
2of the institution who engages in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous,
3obscene, unreasonably loud, or other disorderly conduct that interferes with the free
4expression of others.
AB299,6,75 2. Provide that in all disciplinary cases involving expressive conduct, students
6are entitled to a disciplinary hearing under published procedures, including, at least
7all of the following:
AB299,6,88 a. The right to receive advanced written notice of the charges.
AB299,6,99 b. The right to review the evidence in support of the charges.
AB299,6,1010 c. The right to confront witnesses against them.
AB299,6,1111 d. The right to present a defense.
AB299,6,1212 e. The right to call witnesses.
AB299,6,1313 f. A decision by an impartial arbiter or panel.
AB299,6,1414 g. The right of appeal.
AB299,6,1615 h. The right to active assistance of counsel, if suspension for longer than 9 days
16or expulsion are potential penalties.