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Gov. Steve Bullock has recently vetoed House Bill 735, also known as The Campus Free Speech Bill. This legislation would protect free speech and expression on public college campuses in Montana. Students would no longer be pushed to secluded areas on campus to speak in free speech zones, and administrations would no longer be able to take advantage of vaguely written policies to limit political discussion.

I am a student at Rocky Mountain College and through my own experience and conversations I have had with students from other schools, I can say without a doubt that free speech is not being protected on campuses. Students at Rocky along with public universities in the state have been prevented from displaying various decorations in their dorm rooms and participating in demonstrations no matter the students’ political affiliation. Free speech is not a partisan issue and I hope that our legislators recognize that.

I am fighting for this bill because it will benefit every student. I do realize that HB735 will not apply to private colleges but it will establish a culture that embraces free speech and every college will be forced to acknowledge that there is an issue regarding free speech on campuses in Montana that must be addressed. I encourage everyone to contact their senators and representatives to ask them to overturn the governor’s veto. The young people of this great state deserve to have a voice on their campuses and the ability to understand different points of view.

Emily Kokot

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Livingston

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