The Campus Intellectual Diversity Act is back. Bills based on the model Campus Intellectual Diversity Act I published with the National Association of Scholars in 2019 were introduced in a number of states in 2020. Those bills would establish an Office of Public Policy Events on public-university campuses. The offices would organize debates, panel discussions, and individual lectures exploring our most widely discussed public-policy issues from contending points of view. Students would hear both sides of controversial issues such as immigration, abortion, the government’s role in health care, Middle East policy, etc. That’s more than most students hear now in their classes. These would be extra-curricular events, so there would be no interference with academic freedom.
An excellent campus intellectual-diversity bill cleared the Arizona House in 2020, only to see the legislative session shut down by COVID before the Arizona Senate could consider it. One of the other such bills introduced last year was filed in Missouri by then-Representative Mike Moon.
Since then, Mike Moon has been elected to the Missouri Senate. That is a good sign. Moon was known for his principled constitutional and conservative stands in the House, even when that meant departing from the political path of least resistance. Now voters have rewarded Moon by electing him to the state Senate, where there is even more scope for principled leadership. I’m pleased to say that Senator Moon has filed MO SB 566, the Missouri “Campus Intellectual Diversity Act,” in the current session.
The Campus Intellectual Diversity Act is more needed now than ever. As Adam Hoffman wrote here at NRO in January, there is a “new strategy to suppress conservative voices on campus.” The strategy is simple. Instead of shouting conservative speakers down, make sure they’re never invited in the first place. This, of course, has been a problem for some time. There are indications, however, that the shout-down controversy has indeed suppressed invitations to conservatives still further. The Missouri Campus Intellectual Diversity Act would counter that by ensuring that both sides of our most widely debated public-policy controversies are thoughtfully aired on campus.
I expect to report on the introducing of Campus Intellectual Diversity Acts in other states in the coming weeks.