A House committee is considering making a class on freedom of speech a college graduation requirement. Bill sponsor Dean Dohrman (R-La Monte) said campus protests last fall at Mizzou caused him to file the proposal.

Rep. Dean Dohrman (R-La Monte)

Rep. Dean Dohrman (R-La Monte)

“Considering what’s happened at the University of Missouri-Columbia campus this past year, what I’ve seen going on at other schools, like Yale for example, I’m getting very concerned that we don’t understand really what the First Amendment is about” said Dohrman. “The Pew Research poll that said 40% of millennials believe that freedom of speech should be restricted was disturbing to me. I think when we get that information in front of people, they’ll understand the need for the bill.”

Representative Tommie Pearson (D-St. Louis) said the measure doesn’t address what led to the Mizzou protests.

“It’s not a constitutional issue. It’s a race issue. People need to learn that we need each other because there are people outside of this country that want to kill all of us. They’re not going to pass me up because I’m black. They’re not going to pass you up because you’re white. So why don’t we learn to survive together and be prepared for outside enemies instead of making enemies within,” said Pierson.

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Representative Tommie Pierson

“We need to be concerned with all students being treated with respect and fairness, so that we can create a unified state rather than a divided one. Some of these bills are specifically put forth to divide us.”

The protests last November led to the resignations of President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin.