We must safeguard free speech across our nation’s campuses

A reasonable person might suppose that college and university campuses are havens for exchange of and debate about ideas. Too often, that is not true.

Faculties at most institutions of higher learning are weighted toward people with liberal social, economic and political views. Many are intolerant of other ideas. That arrogance frequently is transferred to students.

It is no wonder, then, that those who view issues through a conservative lens are unpopular on many campuses. There is no problem with that, as long as they are not barred from explaining their ideas and/or debating them with students, professors and the public in general.

Not infrequently, there are reports of conservatives invited to speak on college and university campuses, but either prohibited, officially or unofficially, from doing so. With distressing regularity, conservatives who dare to appear on campuses are harassed, sometimes put in fear of their lives.

Two members of the Ohio House of Representatives want to keep that from happening at Buckeye State colleges and universities. They propose the Campus Free Speech Act. In effect, it would ban institutions of higher learning from infringing on First Amendment rights. It would require they punish students who do so.

There is not the need for such action in Ohio that there is in some other regions. Free exchange of ideas, even controversial ones, still means something in the Buckeye State. Still, the bill should receive serious consideration, if only to send the message that colleges and universities need to get back to living up to their own hype about intellectualism.