Free Speech

VIDEO: The FORUM Act – A Model Policy Proposal

Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act

Download the FORUM Act

Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act
To protect the free speech rights of students in accordance with the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment that prohibits “abridging the freedom of speech.”

The FORUM Act, unlike model policies introduced by other organizations, does not mandate the suspension or expulsion of students. Why is this important? Because the goals of any campus speech legislation should be to encourage students to express themselves openly on campus and respect the free speech rights of others. If students fear their expressive activities could unnecessarily land them in a campus disciplinary hearing, they may choose to sit on the sidelines.

The FORUM Act does not “punish political speech and protesting on campus.” The FORUM Act, does, however, do the following:

  • Protects the right of all people to engage in lawful expression.
  • Eliminates “free speech zones.”
  • Protects students and student groups from disciplinary action because of their lawful expression, including belief-based organizations.
  • Makes clear a counter-protest in and of itself, is not an “infringement” or does not “interfere” with the free speech rights of others.
  • Requires students can be educated regarding their free speech rights and responsibilities.
  • Requires administrators, campus police, etc. understand their duties regarding free expression on campus.
  • Empowers legislators to hold universities accountable by requiring each institution to report on free speech issues prior to the legislature’s appropriations process.
  • Allows alleged victims to bring a cause of action for violation of their free speech rights.


The FORUM Act does not punish students for expressing themselves on campus—in fact, discipline is not even part of the model policy. The only “punishment” in the FORUM Act is in Section 9 that allows victims whose free speech rights have been violated to bring suit. Furthermore, the FORUM Act allows any person or student organization aggrieved by a violation of the act to assert such violation as a defense or counter claim in any disciplinary action or in any civil or administrative proceedings brought against such student or student organization.

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