Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

April 13, 2007

House approves intellectual diversity legislation

The House on Thursday, April 12, third read and passed HB213, a bill sponsored by Rep. Jane Cunningham (R-Chesterfield) that requires an annual report of steps public universities take to ensure intellectual diversity in policies and on campus. The bill passed by a 97-50 vote but faces an uncertain future in the Senate. The legislation was spurred by a case involving a Missouri State University student who felt punished for refusing to sign a letter supporting gay adoption. The student filed suit against MSU and the social work department, and MSU settled the case out of court.

The legislation, which caused considerable debate both before the House Higher Education Committee earlier in the session and again on the House floor, includes a list of several items institutions “may” include on the annual report, although there is no requirement that they do so. The bill also requests that policies on reporting problems be listed on institution websites and that students be informed so they know where to go and what to do if situations arise where they feel their personal, religious or political beliefs are impacting their grades in the classroom.

The University of Missouri Board of Curators discussed intellectual pluralism at its April meeting last week in Rolla. Current policies are being reviewed and the campuses are looking for ways to improve communicating policies to students.

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