Owens Champions First Amendment Rights at Annual Campus Free Speech Roundtable

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Burgess Owens (UT-04) joined Reps. Greg Murphy, M.D. (NC-03), Dr. Virginia Foxx (NC-05), Kat Cammack (FL-03), and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02) for the second annual Congressional Campus Free Speech Roundtable in the U.S. Capitol. The event brought together leaders from the Young America’s Foundation (YAF), the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), current college students, and members of the Alumni Free Speech Alliance (AFSA) to discuss First Amendment concerns in post-secondary education. 

“The freedom of speech is a fundamental Constitutional right,” said Rep. Burgess Owens (UT-04). “Open and intellectually stimulating dialogue in education is essential for fostering an environment where students can learn and thrive. I was proud to join my colleagues for a Campus Free Speech roundtable to hear directly from students and alumni as we work hand-in-hand to protect the First Amendment on America’s college and university campuses.”

“Now that the American people have entrusted Republicans with the House majority, it’s more important than ever that we make First Amendment protections a top priority,” said Rep. Greg Murphy, M.D. (NC-03). “I was proud to lead today’s roundtable event to outline free speech concerns among students, faculty, stakeholders, and alumni in higher education, and discuss how Congress can help safeguard students’ First Amendment rights on college and university campuses. The free exchange of ideas is the hallmark of a post-secondary education, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to protect the freedom of speech for generations of students to come.”

“It was an honor to join Rep. Murphy for his second Campus Free Speech Roundtable and I appreciate his dedication to protecting our First Amendment rights,” said Education and Labor Committee Republican Leader Virginia Foxx (NC-05). “As a former educator, I made it a point to help students learn how to think—not what to think. Unfortunately, too many colleges and universities now care more about creating conformity of thought instead of promoting freedom of thought. However, I was encouraged to hear from the brave students and others on the frontlines of this fight and I look forward to working with these free-speech warriors in the coming Congress.”

“Thanks to Dr. Murphy and my colleagues and other attendees for their participation this morning,” said Rep. Kat Cammack (FL-03). “The issue of free speech on college campuses is one of the most important of our time, and something that should be at the forefront of lawmakers’ minds as we head into the 118th Congress. As one of the co-chairs of the Campus Free Speech Caucus, we’re taking this mission to the next level and encouraging colleagues to have the important discussions with the schools in their districts about what they’re doing to defend and protect this First Amendment Right.”

“To develop their critical thinking skills, students must be presented with a variety of opinions—particularly ones that differ from their own. Unfortunately, we’re seeing the opposite approach on many college and university campuses,” said Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02). “I was pleased to join Representative Greg Murphy this morning to reiterate the importance of protecting free speech on our school campuses.”

“As the principal outreach organization of the Conservative Movement, Young America’s Foundation is proud to continue partnership with our allies in Congress in the fight for campus free speech,” said Karalee Geis, Director of Capitol Outreach (YAF). “Hearing from YAF student activists first-hand— both past and present, was instrumental in today’s conversation.” 

“Young America’s Foundation is grateful for the leadership of Congressman Murphy and the Campus Free Speech Caucus in defending the First Amendment rights of students nationwide,” said Raj Kannappan, Vice President (YAF). “Unless people in power hold them accountable, universities have little incentive to change their often unconstitutional behavior.” 

“FIRE is glad to continue to participate in this important conversation on protecting free speech and fighting back against campus censorship,” said Greg Gonzalez, Legislative Fellow (FIRE). “We thank Representative Murphy for leading the Campus Free Speech Roundtable — and for Congress’s continued attention to the ongoing threats to the First Amendment at our nation’s colleges and universities.”

Video playback of the Campus Free Speech Roundtable is available here.

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