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Enacted Campus Free Speech Statutes – Arkansas

US Capitol Building

In 2019, Arkansas enacted SB 156, now Ark. Code Ann. § 6-60-1001 through § 6-60-1010.

SB 156 Summary

SB 156 prohibits “state-supported institutions of higher education” from quarantining student speech to misleadingly labeled “free speech zones,” and from discriminating against belief based student organizations. The bill also defines harassment in accordance with U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

Key Provisions

  • Prohibits public institutions from quarantining speech with “free speech zones”;
  • Defines student-on-student harassment in a way that is consistent with the definition provided by the Supreme Court in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education;
  • Probits institutions from discriminating against belief-based student organizations by preventing them from requiring leaders or members of the organization affirm and adhere to an organization's sincerely held beliefs or statement of principles;
  • Requires First Amendment trainings as part of new student orientation; and
  • Creates a cause of action allowing a “person or student organization” to file a lawsuit to enforce their rights under the statute.

FIRE Commentary

State of Arkansas passes law to protect student free speech rights