Bills Impacting Campus Speakers and Programming Delayed One Week—Advocacy Alert Remains In Effect

Category: Advocacy Alerts

Two bills that would dramatically impact the process of bringing speakers to public institutions of higher education were delayed last night in the Senate Education Committee.

The bills, SB 1608 and SB 2493, are sponsored by Senator Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) and firmly opposed by the University of Tennessee System.

SB 2493 prohibits the use of all institutional revenue (including gift monies) to engage visiting or guest speakers for events at public institutions of higher education.

SB 1608 would put into state law that student fee money for speakers—at all public campuses—be distributed proportionately based on the size of the organizations’ membership.

The University has worked with lawmakers to help alleviate legislative concerns through SJR626, which directs the Board of Trustees to study measures to increase accountability and transparency as well as implement an “opt-in” for the portion of the student fee that can be allocated for campus speakers.  That resolution passed the Senate Education Committee last week and on the floor of the Senate this morning.

In last night’s Senate Education Committee meeting, Senator Campfield mentioned that he had spoken with UT previously on this issue and that “we” are working on some amendments that have not yet been completed.

The University of Tennessee is not seeking amendatory language and firmly opposes a bill on these issues, instead preferring changes be handled through the UT Board of Trustees.

UT leaders hope that no additional legislative action will be taken.

If you are concerned about these issues and haven’t yet contacted your elected officials, please take action prior to next Wednesday’s 9:30 am (CDT) meeting of the Senate Education Committee.  You can contact your elected officials here.

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