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Report: UT agrees to dismantle Campus Climate Response Team

Gov. Greg Abbott called the group "absurd" and said its policies suppress free speech on campus.

AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas has agreed to dismantle its Campus Climate Response Team after an ongoing legal battle concerning the right to free speech on campus, according to an opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal.

The UT website states the team was enacted to help students report hateful comments, prejudiced behavior or other incidents of alleged bias. Examples include derogatory graffiti, verbal harassment, hostile classroom environments or hateful written comments in regard to topics such as citizenship, race, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

This comes after nonprofit group Speech First reportedly filed a lawsuit in 2018, claiming the university “created an elaborate investigatory and disciplinary apparatus to suppress, punish, and deter speech that other students deem ‘offensive,’ ‘biased,’ ‘uncivil,’ or ‘rude.’” 

According to the Wall Street Journal, the suit eventually led to a settlement, in which university leaders agreed to disband the response team. However, UT still reserves the right to develop an alternative system in its wake.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted about the news on Saturday, calling it a victory for free speech.

"Political correctness is being ended at the University of Texas at Austin," he said. "UT agreed to disband its absurd PC police and end policies that suppress speech on campus. This is consistent with the campus free speech law I signed last session."

Senate Bill 18 was passed in 2019, which required public colleges and universities across Texas to develop more uniform policies on free speech. It states that they must allow anyone to engage in free speech on campus and create disciplinary sanctions for students who interfere. It also asks that school leaders develop a process to address complaints of potential free speech violations, but it also allows them to put restrictions on the time, place and manner of these free speech activities.

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