Watch out, student. Universities could punish you for telling jokes. David French of National Review counted eight states that have passed campus free-speech bills in less than six months, most recently Texas. He has one major quibble with the new Texas law: its failure to define a phrase that dictates when students can be punished for disruptions.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which French used to lead, added another concern: failure to specify an enforcement mechanism, whether for individuals or the state attorney general.
But those quibbles are nothing compared to the constitutional problems with a pair of Texas bills on campus sexual harassment that are on Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.
The two bills set a definition of sexual harassment that mirrors the Obama administration’sview of Title IX, and incentivize college employees to report anything that the most delicate person on campus might consider sexual harassment.
Which means, telling sex jokes can get you investigated by Texas public universities. Failure to report students who tell sex jokes can get faculty at Texas public universities thrown in jail.
Who would have thought Texas would look worse than California when it comes to speech codes?
Yet California public universities still have their share of kooky conduct codes that infringe on speech, and one of them even has a similar zero-tolerance rule for offensive jokes.
The new “Speech Code of the Month” by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education comes from California State University-Channel Islands, and it’s bounded only by the imagination of humorless, woke administrators.
Speech that is a part of conduct that constitutes unlawful harassment is not constitutionally protected, but schools all too often write their harassment policies so broadly that they make protected expression punishable. One offender is California State University Channel Islands — its overbroad harassment policy is our Speech Code of the Month for July.