Rep. Quang Nguyen explains possible legislation tackling free speech issues at Arizona universities

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Rep. Quang Nguyen, R-Prescott Valley, describes what he called a "crisis" of free speech on Arizona's university campuses at ALEC's annual summit in Scottsdale, Ariz. Courtesy of the American Legislative Exchange Council

By Cameron Arcand | The Center Square

Arizona Rep. Quang Nguyen, R-Prescott Valley, told an audience in Scottsdale on Wednesday about what actions Republican lawmakers may take in the next session targeting public universities on free speech issues.

“We actually drafted quite a few things, including changes to ABOR – Arizona Board of Regents – to sort of make things a little tighter,” he said on a panel at the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council’s annual summit. 

“But honestly, hitting the pocket is where it counts, right? So, as a legislator… I’m gonna have a conversation about future appropriations with all universities. And like I said, we gotta hit them where it hurts. And that is the wallet. So there is a lot of things, and I’m not gonna talk about what’s, I’m not gonna let the cat out of the bag yet,” he added.

“But I think it’s important for us to understand that freedom of expression doesn’t exist, so how do we fix that? So we fix that by forcing people to what they should be doing already, and it’s really unfortunate,” Nguyen continued.

The Republican took a similar tone at a Joint Legislative Ad Hoc Committee on Freedom of Expression at Arizona’s Public Universities hearing on Monday, in which he and other lawmakers talked about budget cuts, The Center Square reported.

“I’m open to suggestions on how much we gut from the university system,” State Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, said Monday.

The panel on Wednesday also featured Arizona philanthropist Tom Lewis, who testified Monday to the committee. Lewis had the T.W. Lewis Center for Personal Development shut down after Barrett, The Honors College, faculty created intense backlash to an event earlier this year featuring Charlie Kirk, Dennis Prager, and Robert Kiyosaki.

“When we tried to bring Dennis Prager and Charlie Kirk to speak at ASU, the faculty erupted, calling them haters and homophobes and all kinds of names like that. And it really was so obvious, that it really blew the topic wide open and exposed, I think, what was really going on in our faculty, which is a 40-year march to take over our public universities,” Lewis said Wednesday. 

In addition, former Regent Karrin Taylor Robson spoke on the panel. She said that the pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses in recent weeks “exposed the rot” in how universities educate.

“The pro-Hamas, anti-Israel, anti-American sentiment that has been displayed should wake every American up,” she said. “We’ve got to fix it, so we have an opportunity now.”

“We can’t deny what’s going on, and we have an opportunity. And so, as policymakers and leaders, you have to hold your university’s feet to the fire,” Robson continued. 

However, any legislation or budget cuts would eventually need the signature of Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs, which could prove to be a tough battle for Republicans in the upcoming session.

Republished with the permission of The Center Square.