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House Gives Final Approval to "Intellectual Diversity" Bill

The Missouri House gave final approval today to legislation designed to improve intellectual diversity on college campuses...but critics say the bill will clamp down on academic freedom. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

Lawmakers have filed similar proposals in previous years but this year's bill has gained some momentum because of a lawsuit from a former Missouri State University student. In her suit, Emily Brooker claimed a professor in the School of Social Work required her to advocate for a belief she opposed. The school eventually settled and took the instructor out of the classroom. This year's bill bears Brooker's name.

The bill sponsor, Republican Representative Jane Cunningham says what happened to Emily Brooker is not an isolated event.

The bill would require public universities to report the steps they take to ensure intellectual diversity on their campuses.

Cunningham says her goal is to protect students of all political and ideological persuasions.

Opponents of the bill say there are procedures in place at universities to protect students and their viewpoints and that makes this legislation unnecessary.

Democratic Representative Sara Lampe, whose district includes Missouri State University says administrators did a good job handling the Brooker lawsuit.

Others say requiring universities to monitor discussions for intellectual diversity could impede academic freedom.

Democratic Representative Rebecca McClanahan taught nursing at Truman State University for 30 years.

That was Representative Jane Cunningham, the bill sponsor. She says there may be enough momentum from the Emily Brooker case to move this bill through the legislature this year.