Photo Credit: Official Congressional photos
Reps. Brandon Williams (R-NY) and Virginia Foxx (R-NC).

Congressman Brandon Williams (R-NY) and Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) last Friday introduced H.R. 7683, a.k.a. the Respecting the First Amendment on Campus Act. The bill seeks to compel colleges and universities to fulfill their First Amendment obligations by making free speech on campus a condition of receiving Title IV funding under the Higher Education Act.

This is a third GOP bill seeking to update the Higher Education Act of 1965. The Republicans on Rep. Foxx’s House Education and Workforce Committee have also considered bills requiring colleges to overhaul their financing and report foreign gifts more diligently. H.R. 7683 attempts to correct the “long-standing and pervasive degradation of First Amendment rights” on college campuses.


“The state of postsecondary education is in complete disarray,” said Williams and Foxx. “We’ve seen countless examples of institutions leveraging taxpayers’ dollars to fan the flames of illiberalism, intolerance, and radical ideology amongst students and faculty. Americans’ confidence in postsecondary education is at an all-time low, and rightly so.”

“While there are several factors contributing to this national sentiment, one of the most important is institutions’ inconsistency in protecting the First Amendment rights of students and faculty,” the bill’s authors continued. “The Respecting the First Amendment on Campus Act addresses this problem by holding institutions accountable, enacting additional enforcement mechanisms, and requiring that campus policies are concrete and transparent. The First Amendment is non-negotiable. Every student, faculty member, and invited guest has the right to speak freely in a civil campus environment without fear of reprisal.”

The authors referred to a detailed September 2023 report on the pervasive degradation of First Amendment rights on college campuses across the nation. According to the report:

  • 45% of students believe blocking other students from attending a speech is acceptable, and more than 25% of students believe using violence to stop speech is acceptable.
  • 90% of college freshman orientation programs include a focus on DEI, while only around 30% of orientation programs review the importance of free speech or viewpoint diversity.
  • One in five students stated that their college’s stance on free speech is unclear.

“This hostile takeover of postsecondary education by political activists, woke faculty, and partisan administrators has established a dangerous trend that threatens students’ constitutionally guaranteed rights and the ability of campuses to maintain a civil educational environment free of political bias and agendas,” said the bill’s authors.


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