UT expresses concerns over bills impacting university speakers

UT expresses concerns over bills impacting university speakers

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"If people realize we're an institution that doesn't allow outside speakers, I think that could have a significant impact," UT Faculty Senate President David Golden said. "If people realize we're an institution that doesn't allow outside speakers, I think that could have a significant impact," UT Faculty Senate President David Golden said.
Both bills are sponsored in the State Senate by State Senator Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville. Both bills are sponsored in the State Senate by State Senator Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville.
"I think that it would put our institution at a significant disadvantage in terms of recruiting faculty, in terms of recruiting students, in terms of recruiting staff members," UT Vice Chancellor for Student Life Vincent Carilli said. "I think that it would put our institution at a significant disadvantage in terms of recruiting faculty, in terms of recruiting students, in terms of recruiting staff members," UT Vice Chancellor for Student Life Vincent Carilli said.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Faculty members and administrators from the University of Tennessee said they have concerns over two bills affecting the funding for guest speakers on public university campuses.

"If people realize we're an institution that doesn't allow outside speakers, I think that could have a significant impact," UT Faculty Senate President David Golden said. "I can think of no better place for contradictory, conflicting, controversial ideas to be presented than on a university campus."

Both bills are sponsored in the State Senate by State Senator Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville.

One bill would distribute student fees for guest speakers based on the size of the student groups.

The other bill would prohibit the use of student fees to pay for any guest speakers.

"University campuses should be open environments for the exchange of ideas, and bringing outside speakers to a university campus is part of facilitating the exchange of ideas and enhances the educational experience," UT President Joe DiPietro said in a statement to 6 News.

"The proposed two bills, SB1608 and SB2493, would impact both the manner and the ability of the University to bring outside speakers to campus, and we believe neither would be good for the University," DiPietro continued. "Because we have great concerns about the two bills, both of which are scheduled to be considered next week, we felt it necessary to share our concerns with members of the University's advocacy community and to encourage them to contact their legislators."

Campfield said he believes students shouldn't have to pay for certain programs if they disagree with its content.

"If people are going to be forced to pay to hear speakers, I think there should be some diversity there," Campfield said. "I don't think they should be forced to pay for speakers that they may find objectionable. To me, that's tyranny."

UT administrators said they worry about the long lasting implications if the bills are passed.

"I think that it would put our institution at a significant disadvantage in terms of recruiting faculty, in terms of recruiting students, in terms of recruiting staff members," UT Vice Chancellor for Student Life Vincent Carilli said.

"Everyone talks about oh this is stifling free speech," Campfield said. "I don't think it does at all actually. We're opening speech up to more points of view, not just one select point of view."

Both bills are set to go before the Senate Education Committee next week.

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