University of Wisconsin System leaders approved a policy Friday that calls for suspending and expelling students who disrupt campus speeches and presentations, saying students need to listen to all sides of issues and arguments.
The Board of Regents adopted the language on a voice vote during a meeting at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie. The policy states that students found to have twice engaged in violence or other disorderly conduct that disrupts others’ free speech would be suspended. Students found to have disrupted others’ free expression three times would be expelled.
“Perhaps the most important thing we can do as a university is to teach students how to engage and listen to those with whom they differ,” system President Ray Cross told the regents. “If we don’t show students how to do this, who will? Without civil discourse and a willingness to listen and engage with different voices, all we are doing is reinforcing our existing values.”
The policy comes amid complaints from conservatives across the U.S. that right-leaning speakers aren’t afforded the same level of respect on campuses as liberal presenters. Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016 shouted down and traded obscene gestures with ex-Breitbart editor and conservative columnist Ben Shapiro.
The University of California-Berkeley canceled an appearance by right-wing firebrand Milo Yiannopoulus in September. Four protests have turned violent on that campus and in the nearby city in recent months.
The new Wisconsin policy mirrors Republican legislation the state Assembly passed in June, though the Senate has yet to act on the bill.