Peaceful student protests could be protected from penalty

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ILLINOIS — Students across the state have been involved in various protests. Now a new proposal wants to protect them.

The bill would allow to them to peacefully protest without getting penalized academically. The proposal comes from legislation Missouri tried to pass. The Missouri proposal would revoke the scholarship of any college athlete if they refuse to play over protest, something Mizzou football players did last year. And students say they have that right.

Students as far as Chicago to as close as Charleston have made the trip to the capitol. They’ve been advocating about the state’s lack of funding for higher education, and students say protesting is their First Amendment right.

“Should be able speak out.”

Courtney Baker is a MAP grant student. He believes the rallies are a good way of getting their voices heard.

“I feel that it’s a good initiative to take; you know I obviously feel that anyone should have the right to speak out about anything they feel they need to speak out about.”

Now, lawmakers are pushing to protect student athletes and their right to protest.

“They were just trying to be too much in control of what the students, what they embodied and what they believe they should be able to say.”

The proposal would prohibit any university from revoking a student athletic or academic scholarship as a result of protesting.

“Most of the time they will, you know, protest peacefully. It just becomes a problem sometimes when people do things like try to prevent freedom of speech.”

When students found out that Missouri wanted to punish their football players for standing up for what they say is right, they said, “That’s going a little too far, I feel like as an adult, you do have that right as a student you do have that right to peaceful protest just as long as it’s within means.”

Vince Walker says students are protected under the First Amendment, and protesting peacefully is protected under that act.

“As long as it’s within means, you’re not disturbing anyone else or causing any harm of any kind.”

Walker says the proposal isn’t needed for what’s already law.

“I don’t think that a law needs to be passed because I feel like that’s already a constitutional right to peaceful protest and freedom of speech.”

The legislation is for student athletes, but lawmakers are hoping to expand to all students who receive scholarships.

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