Nelson successfully adds academic freedom protections for Minnesota college students

Senator Carla Nelson
2 min readApr 19, 2024

In a victory for students across Minnesota, the Minnesota State Senate this week approved an amendment by Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) to extend academic freedom protections to students at public colleges and universities. The amendment was added to a broader bipartisan higher education policy bill.

“Academic freedom is a cornerstone of higher learning, and it is just as important for students as it is for faculty,” Senator Nelson said. “Students must have the freedom to express their beliefs, explore ideas, and disagree with professors without fear of retaliation or discrimination against their grades.”

Senator Nelson’s amendment establishes key student rights under the Academic Freedom Protection section of the bill:

  • Prohibits faculty from requiring students to express particular social or political viewpoints for academic credit
  • Ensures learning environments honor free student inquiry and discussion, not indoctrination
  • Requires student assessments to be based solely on knowledge of subjects studied, not personal beliefs
  • Restricts introducing controversial matters unrelated to the course material

“Why should professors have special protections that their own students don’t share?” Senator Nelson said. “Our colleges should be marketplaces of ideas, not indoctrination camps. This amendment upholds academic freedom as a two-way street benefiting both students and faculty.”

The higher education bill now goes to a conference committee made up of members of the House and Senate to work out differences between the two chambers’ bills.