The 86th Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 18 (SB 18), which guarantees that members of the public are free to engage in expressive speech on public university campuses by converting some parts of campuses to traditional public forums instead of limited public forums. It also contains various requirements and prohibitions related to expressive activities on campuses. The main effect of the new law is to allow any person to engage in free speech activities in the common outdoor areas of the state’s public university campuses. It allows universities to continue to regulate the time, place and manner of free speech activities—so long as these rules are content-neutral and applied regardless of a speaker’s viewpoint.
The new law requires universities to create disciplinary sanctions for students, student organizations and faculty members who interfere with the free speech activities of others. UT policy also provides for the discipline of staff if they violate the new law’s provisions.
The law, effective Sept. 1, 2019, gives universities until Aug. 1, 2020, to finalize specific rules for implementation. The interim policies and procedures that UT Austin has introduced at this time will be finalized and recommended for approval by the UT System Board of Regents in 2020.