Here are some of the proposed laws resulting from spring campus protests

Lawmakers have taken various approaches to reining in demonstrations. Few have passed.

Staff clears the New School encampment in May.

Staff clears the New School encampment in May. Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

As campus protests on the Gaza war spread this past spring semester, manifesting as encampments and walkouts, lawmakers at all levels of government introduced legislation in response. The proposals, none of which have actually become law in New York, have sparked much debate about which type of protest should be protected. Though the first amendment protects the right to freedom of expression, some lawmakers believe local government and law enforcement should have more power to constrain these rights. The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law has compiled a tracker of anti-protest laws across the country. On the state level, since the New York legislative session has ended, these bills would only pass if the Legislature came back for a special session – which is highly unlikely. Otherwise, these bills will need to be reintroduced when the next session begins on Jan. 1, 2025. Here are some of the bills proposed by New York and federal lawmakers in response to recent protests.


Antisemitism Awareness Act

Freshman New York GOP Rep. Mike Lawler saw a major legislative victory when his bill to update the definition of antisemitism passed the House in May. The bill requires the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism. The definition describes antisemitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” The bill says any education program or activity receiving federal funding must abide by the definition. 

Hamas Supporters Have No Home Here Act

This proposed bill threatens to revoke the student visas of protesters, specifically calling to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act. According to the bill, international students who are charged with a crime “related to their participation in pro-terrorism or antisemitism rallies or demonstrations” will be deported from the country. The bill was introduced by GOP Rep. Beth Van Duyne of Texas and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

Amending the Higher Education Act of 1965

This bill aims to make “certain individuals” ineligible for federal student loans.  Along with revoking eligibility, this bill would also prohibit “certain individuals” who already have loans from receiving loan forgiveness. Who these “certain individuals” are has not been defined by the bill. Sponsored by GOP Rep. Rudy Yakym, this bill has been referred to the Education and Workforce Committee. The full text for this bill has not been released. 

Community Service in Gaza 

Another bill requires any person convicted of unlawful activity at a university campus to provide community service in Gaza for a minimum of six months. The degree of unlawful activity that would qualify a person for community service is not disclosed. This bill is sponsored by GOP Rep. Andrew Ogles, who has said “pro-Hamas supporters wouldn’t last a day,” referring to the community service requirements the bill describes. The bill has been referred to the Foreign Affairs Committee. The full text for this bill has not been released. 

No Flights For Terrorists Act

This bill proposes that individuals found to be supportive of foreign terrorist organizations, antisemitism, or those who have been disciplined by universities to be placed on the FBI no-fly list. This bill was proposed by U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Stop Pro-Terrorist Riots Now Act

This bill calls to establish mandatory sentencing for rioting and increase riot punishment to 10 years in prison. This bill is sponsored by GOP Sen. Tom Cotton, who has said the bill is intended “to crack down on pro-Hamas riots,” and has been referred to the Judiciary Committee. 


Disrupting traffic bills

By amending the state’s penal law and expanding the definition of “domestic terrorism”, this bill is designed to deter protests or other “deliberate” acts that block transportation routes ranging from public roads and bridges to tunnels. The bill is sponsored by Democratic Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato and follows multiple incidents of pro-Palestine protesters blocking roads and bridges in New York. A similar bill has also been introduced in the state Senate by GOP Sen. Jack Martins and federally as the “Safe and Open Streets Act” by GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina. 

Mask bills 

A collection of bills in both the state Senate and Assembly have been introduced which criminalize the concealment of one's identity with face covering during lawful and or unlawful demonstrations and riots. The state Senate bill is sponsored by GOP Sen. Steven Rhoads and the Assembly bill is sponsored by Democratic Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz. A similar bill has also been introduced federally by GOP Rep. Tim Burchett.  

Dialogue and Decorum Act 

This bill would make it illegal for a person to disrupt a lawful assembly occurring with legal permits. The bill has been referred to the Codes Committee after being introduced by Democratic Assembly Member Sam Berger, who says this bill is about “respect and tolerance.” This bill was inspired by a similar California law.

Free expression for students

This is a bill ensuring that the free expression of all students enrolled in State University of New York schools and City University of New York schools are protected from intimidation and harm. The bill is sponsored by GOP Assembly Member William Barclay, who also introduced an earlier version of this bill in 2021. The bill has been referred to the Higher Education Committee.