Missouri legislators could bring changes to state campuses

One bill would allow permit holders to have concealed carry firearms on college campuses.

There are numerous bills currently being drafted and debated in the Missouri House of Representatives and the Senate that have the power to change various policies and procedures at MU.

HB 1637 — Any student in the state of Missouri graduating after August 2019 will be required to pass a three-credit-hour course on free speech under this bill. Appropriate coursework would include studying the nation’s First Amendment, Section 8 of the Missouri Constitution and history of speech suppression around the world.

SB 767 — This proposed bill, also known as the “Curriculum Transparency Act,” would require the university to post course information on its public website. The information that would need to be included on the website consists of: the syllabus, the reading list, attendance requirements, opportunities for extra credit and a general description of assignments and projects.

The state government has estimated that the supplementary funds required to implement this bill could exceed $100,000. In the fiscal notes of this bill, MU stated that course materials and syllabi are a faculty member’s own intellectual property, and they should maintain the autonomy in deciding whether this information is circulated publicly.

SB 766 — This bill states that the state auditor must audit the UM System at least once each year. As of now, higher education public institutions may be audited as often as the auditor deems necessary. According to the Internal Audit Department of the UM System, the internal audit department can “provide independent appraisal of the University’s financial, operational and control activities.”

Reviewing the university’s fiscal records helps university officials ensure that everything is running smoothly under the established policies of the university and the government, according to the Internal Audit Department. Under this bill, the auditor would not have to give advance notice or they would act under the request of the governor. According to the bill’s fiscal notes, the estimated cost for the university during the first fiscal year of 2017 after the bill is implemented would be $469,781, with a dramatic increase every year thereafter.

SB 583 — This bill implements an instructional waiver review board for the UM System. It states that no regular faculty member, or full-time faculty that has been granted tenure or is on a tenure path, should be assigned fewer than 12 credit hours or 180 student credit hours (the number of credit hours for the course multiplied by the number of students enrolled). If a faculty member does not meet these requirements, they must submit an anonymous instructional waiver to the review board. The board will be composed of nine members that meet twice each year.

SB 586 — This bill would allow concealed carry firearms to be carried on college campuses by permit holders. Under current law, permit holders can only carry their weapons with the consent of the institution or a school official. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, said he has received positive feedback so far from faculty, staff and security officers.

“They don't want to be sitting ducks should a madman attempt a campus massacre in our state,” Dixon said. “So the questions are: ‘If they’re attacked, should an individual of legal age who is trained and permitted to carry a concealed weapon have different Constitutional rights to defend themselves depending on what side of the street they’re on? When it comes to self-preservation, does pursuing a degree in higher education mean a person must give up their Constitutional rights?’ The answer to both is a resounding no!”

HB 1559 — One year after Lloyd Gaines won a Supreme Court case granting him acceptance into the MU School of Law, and shortly after his disappearance, Lucile Bluford applied to the School of Journalism as a graduate student in 1939. She was accepted, but when her race was revealed she was blocked from enrolling. After attempting to sue the university several times, the Supreme Court ruled in Bluford’s favor in 1941. The School of Journalism closed the graduate program in response, saying that operations could not function with so many students and faculty serving in the war.

Bluford went on to work at the Kansas City Call for 70 years and exposed civil rights issues. This act calls for July 1 to be recognized as Lucile Bluford Day in Missouri.

SB 626 — If this bill passes, it will require universities to prepare annual campus security and awareness reports in regards to sexual consent. The reports would explain what affirmative sexual consent is. The act defines affirmative consent as a temporary “active, unambiguous, and voluntary agreement” to engage in sexual activity.

SB 627 — Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, sponsored this bill because of a personal connection to suicide; her mother killed herself at age 25. If passed, this would require universities to have a policy on advising students and staff on available suicide prevention programs.

“We want people who feel like they just can’t live another day to just pick up the phone and have someone they can talk to and convince them that life is worth living,” Nasheed said. “This is about giving individuals the opportunity to live another day.”

HB 1743 — This bill states “any college athlete on scholarship who refuses to play for a reason unrelated to health shall have his or her scholarship revoked.” Furthermore, the university must fine any coach that supports or encourages their players to strike or refuse to play a scheduled game. The bill was withdrawn on Dec. 16. This bill comes after over 30 MU football players boycotted their positions on the team this past fall until UM System President Tim Wolfe resigned. The athletes stated that their coaches fully supported them.

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