However, another state senator renewed his feud with university officials during a speech from the legislative floor Monday morning.
Regent Hal Daub says the boundaries of free expression have been tested a number of times at Nebraska.
“I think that the system is working right and it’s not just the so-called incident involving Turning Point at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln campus,” Daub tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “It’s kneeling football players. It’s marches, boisterous conduct by people. All of those things have to be sorted out, but you can’t put too rigid a boundary around these things.”
A graduate student-lecturer, Courtney Lawton, will be released from university employment at the end of the year after calling sophomore Kaitlyn Mullen a “neo-fascist” while Mullen recruited for the conservative organization Turning Point USA on the Lincoln campus. Other staff members allegedly insulted Mullen.
Also, two staff members in the UNL communications department have resigned.
The University of Nebraska Board of Regents has adopted a new policy on free expression on the four-campus system. [Click here for a link to the policy.] The policy reinforces the commitment of the university to the tenants of free expression. It directs each campus to decide which parts of the campus are “designated public forums,” such as sidewalks, which are “limited public forums,” such as a concert hall, and which are “non-public forums,” such as a classroom. It also calls for education about the First Amendment.
Daub says the new university policy provides a comprehensive guide for free expression on campus.
“All points of view are to be tolerated, to be respected, and to be allowed or permitted without too much limitation, even though it might be ugly or distasteful in some cases,” according to Daub.
Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard took to the legislative floor Monday to again complain about how conservative students are treated on the Nebraska University campuses. Erdman told colleagues during a point of personal privilege the August incident really wasn’t about free speech.
“I didn’t come here to play paddy-cake and when I see the incident that happened August 25th, it had absolutely nothing, I never said once it was a free speech issue; never did, never have,” Erdman said during a point of personal privilege. “My position was it was a code of conduct (issue) on employees of the university, not free speech.”
Erdman said university officials were slow to return his calls and discuss the issue; and dismissive of evidence he says he presented to both UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green and NU President Hank Bounds. Erdman says he’s pleased with some steps the university has taken.
“We have made some progress,” Erdman stated. “The university has written a new free-speech policy. They have become aware of some of the things that they weren’t willing to admit before. So, we have made some progress.”
Erdman said he had called Green to inform the chancellor about an op-ed piece he had written with Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings and Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon critical of UNL. Erdman said Green failed to return his call for two weeks.
Halloran sponsors Legislative Bill 718, which would instruct the Board of Regents to create a committee to review complaints of violations of free speech rights.
AUDIO: Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard speaks on a point of personal privilege from the legislative floor. [9:25]