State legislators told University of Wisconsin students about potential changes to protest policies and credit transfers at an open forum in Union South Thursday.

State representatives David Murphy, R-Greenville, and Jimmy Anderson, D-Fitchburg, discussed bills that recently passed and are being debated in the Committee on Universities and Colleges. Students had the opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns about current legislation.

Murphy expressed his support for the Campus Free Speech Bill, which will set a standardized protocol to deal with protesting across the UW System. Murphy said he believes the bill will help protect the First Amendment rights of students, staff and guest speakers on campus. 

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“It’s not up to me to decide who’s a good a protester and who’s a bad protester,” Murphy said. “To me it’s completely about the disruption of free speech. If you’re disrupting free speech that’s a bad thing.”

Anderson spoke in opposition of the free speech bill. He expressed concerns that the free speech bill might suppress students’ ability to protest and may negatively impact their academic careers. 

The bill is now being debated in the state assembly. 

“It’s probably a much better outcome if we just let the current process to take place rather than having to put people’s future academic careers on the line due to the fact that they can be suspended from being able to exercise their constitutional rights,” Anderson said. 

Murphy and Anderson also answered questions about a bill that would create uniform course numbers and requirements for certain courses across the UW System and technical colleges. Murphy said this change would allow students to transfer credits between schools easier. 

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Murphy said there was opposition to this bill during a recent public hearing due to how much this change would cost and difficulties in creating standardized requirements across all institutions. 

“The problem was I think people have a vision that you’re trying to universally number all courses and that’s not the case,” Murphy said. “The concept was to universally number all first and second year courses so that they’re transferable, but not the upper-level courses.” 

Murphy and Anderson both support the recent bill allowing UW college athletes to earn money off of their name. 

The forum ended with both representatives discussing ways students can stay up to date and involved with legislative affairs. Anderson said the Wisconsin state government website is always up to date with what legislation is passing. 

“A lot of our best ideas come from people coming into our office and pointing out that they have issues,” Anderson said.