FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 19, 2023
Senate Republicans Call for Investigation into Free Speech
Concerns at Arizona State University
PHOENIX, ARIZONA— In the wake of Tuesday's Joint Legislative Ad Hoc Committee on Freedom of Expression at Arizona's Public Universities, Senate Republicans are looking forward to Arizona State University investigating concerns brought to light during the hearing regarding state resources being used to inhibit students' fundamental rights to freedom of speech and expression on campus.
Testimony revealed faculty members of Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University may have coerced their students to not participate in an event where several nationally renowned conservative speakers were in attendance. Additionally, allegations were made of a faculty-driven condemnation campaign, both nationally and inside ASU classrooms, as well as faculty viciously and publicly attacking the prime sponsor of the event, the T.W. Lewis Center for Personal Development. As a result, the center closed its doors, and the executive director who organized the event was let go from her position. ASU administrators have so far defended both the faculty and the Dean of Barrett in their alleged roles of censorship.
"What we have here is the donor of the Lewis Center not putting up with condemnation and censorship of conservative values on campus," said Senator Frank Carroll. "He had every right to withdraw his funding from an institution that so far appears to be hands off in ensuring students' freedom of speech and expression is protected within collegiate culture. This should serve as a wake-up call that there are consequences to not supporting students' rights in exploring diverse viewpoints."
"As an adjunct professor at ASU, it's extremely disturbing to me that these members of the Honors College faculty viewed signing on to that letter as demonstrating good judgement," said Senator J.D. Mesnard. "There's no doubt students are paying attention to their professors' actions and will often alter their behavior to appease them or appeal to their biases, which undermines a healthy educational experience. We want to invite students to feel comfortable in exploring different ideas and beliefs, and not to potentially chill their learning environment."
"Unfortunately, our Democrat counterparts in this committee dealt a slap in the face to ASU students by not taking our efforts to get to the bottom of this situation seriously," said Committee Co-Chairman Anthony Kern. "Frankly, if Representative Analise Ortiz thought this hearing was a 'show', she should have stayed at home and allowed another lawmaker interested advocating for students' free speech rights to take her place. I'm eagerly awaiting to learn ASU's findings of their own investigation within the next 60 days. We will then decide what actions need to be taken, based on their report, through our Senate Judiciary Committee."
For more information, contact:
Director of Communications | Arizona State Senate Republican Caucus