‘Any principled and effective defense of freedom of expression must protect student and faculty expressive rights…’
(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Thursday to ensure that federally funded colleges and universities protect and promote free speech on campus, threatening to withdraw funds if they fail to do so.
“We’re here to take historic action to defend American students and American values,” Trump said, surrounded by conservative student activists at the signing ceremony. “They’ve been under siege.”
“Under the guise of speech codes, safe spaces and trigger warnings, these universities have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity and shut down the voices of great young Americans like those here today,” he said.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said in a statement that the executive order takes much needed action to protect speech of all kinds while forcing universities to meet their institutional promises.
“[We know] from years of experience that censorship silences students and faculty from across the ideological and political spectrum. Any principled and effective defense of freedom of expression must protect student and faculty expressive rights without regard to viewpoint,” the group said. “To secure the benefits of the ‘marketplace of ideas’ for campus communities and for our nation as a whole, all students and faculty must be free to peacefully speak their minds.”
The White House Office of Management and Budget will enforce Trump’s new order by ensuring institutions receive federal research or education grants to promote free speech and inquiry.
“Even as universities have received billions and billions of dollars from taxpayers, many have become increasingly hostile to free speech and the First Amendment,” Trump said.
Republicans praised Trump’s decisive action on an issue that typically affects conservatives and GOP supporters.
“It makes me angry to see the way supporters of President Trump and students advocating for conservative priorities are treated on college campuses across the country,” Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Alab., said in a statement. “The treatment goes against everything we are as a country and flies in the face of the freedom of speech provision outlined in the Constitution.
“As I have said, our nation’s colleges and universities should be a place where ideas are freely debated and students are exposed to a wide range of ideas. I applaud President Trump for taking action today to ensure students are allowed to speak freely and advocate for their beliefs.”