Bill barring student group 'all-comers' policies advances

Posted June 17

Student organizations at public universities and community colleges would be able to oust leaders who don’t share the groups’ core beliefs under a bill approved Tuesday by the House Education Committee.

— Student organizations at public universities and community colleges would be able to oust leaders who don’t share the groups’ core beliefs under a bill approved Tuesday by the House Education Committee.

The Senate bill clarifies the rights of political and religious student groups, which sponsors say can face pressure from university administrators.

Sponsor Sen. Dan Soucek, R-Watauga, said the legislation protects the First Amendment rights of students.

“This is really reiterating what these rights are,” Soucek said. “A simple example is that a strong Republican should not be president of the Young Democrats at a university. It really goes to the First Amendment protection of freedom of speech.”

Some lawmakers questioned the need for the legislation, saying student organizations already have these rights.

“I agree with the sentiment there, but a bill to do that? Are you doubting that the organization internally can handle the problem of a president who suddenly doesn’t share the beliefs of the organization?” asked Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham.

But Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, said recent examples of university officials violating Christian student groups’ First Amendment rights highlight the need for clarification.

Rep. Alma Adams, D-Guilford, a university professor, expressed concern that the bill limits school officials’ oversight of student groups.

“I’m a big supporter of students, but there are some administrative regulations that help students do what they need to do,” Adams said.

So-called "all-comers" policies were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court four years ago, but legislative staffers said the ruling allows schools to have non-discrimination policies among student groups but doesn't require them.

Soucek said the bill would not not force schools to grant recognition to all student groups but would prevent administrators from violating students’ free-speech rights.

“There’s been problems with universities infringing on the core beliefs of the organization, and that was what this is to address,” he said.

Although the bill allows student organizations to remove officers whose beliefs don’t align with the group’s mission, the restriction does not apply to all members of campus groups. Soucek said he has spoken with college students who want to limit top group positions to like-minded leaders while still including members with differing views.

“They really liked the idea of people with diverse views being invited,” he said, adding that membership in a student group is difficult to define.

The bill is expected to head to the House floor.


This story is closed for comments. Comments on news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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  • scubagirl2 Jun 18, 9:47 a.m.

    Do we REALLY need a LAW for this???? The GOP is just over the top. Why can the school not be in charge of these groups.....

    state hurting for money and THIS is what they come up with?

  • iopsyc Jun 18, 9:06 a.m.

    "Soucek said the bill would not not force schools to grant recognition to all student groups"

    Yet the first component of the bill states: "No constituent institution that grants recognition to any student organization shall deny recognition to a student organization or deny to a student organization access to programs, funding, facilities, or other privileges associated with official recognition otherwise available to another student organization..."

  • dwntwnboy2 Jun 18, 8:33 a.m.

    The GOP once again finding solutions to problems that don't exist.

  • Come On_Seriously Jun 18, 8:33 a.m.

    The GOP does love a private club.

  • teleman60 Jun 18, 6:58 a.m.

    Another EXCELLENT EXAMPLE of the lunacy bred in NC. Instead of jobs or budget or DENR the GA is "makin' sure" nobody takes over the "yung republicans" club and accidentally says they believe in climate change.

    This is what happens when the gop finally steal enough elections to take power.

    Next they will be enforcing the "only brown shirts" rule for campus wide dress code. Yav holl mine fuher.

  • mep Jun 17, 4:57 p.m.

    What a GREAT idea... thanks GOP!
    Nice to see some common sense protections being passed.

  • jackjones2nc Jun 17, 3:08 p.m.

    Please provide us with a dozen real situations that demonstrate there's a problem, and that this legislation is actually the appropriate solution.

  • goldenosprey Jun 17, 3:05 p.m.

    In the early 90's a group of College Republicans at UNC Wilmington took over a nonpartisan progressive organization and immediately voted to eschew any further campus funding or activity. Everyone had a good laugh.

    Why this is more important than jobs, coal ash and education to the NCGA is beyond me.

  • archmaker Jun 17, 1:46 p.m.

    as promised, the laser focus on "jobs bills."

  • iopsyc Jun 17, 1:14 p.m.

    First of all, let's tear down the straw man. What are the chances, really, of a Republican... View More

    — Posted by Lone Voice in the Wilderness

    I haven't seen the latest version of the bill (and it isn't yet on-line), but the Senate version really had two parts.
    The first part mandated that religious groups must be recognized and supported by universities (just as much as any other student group would).
    I find it interesting that they felt the need to spell that out, as if there was a movement by universities to outlaw religious groups. I also wonder if the GA recognizes that Muslims, Satanists, and followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are also covered by the wording of that bill.