Posted by 22 March 2019
Over the past few years, incidents of speakers being shut down at colleges around the nation have increasingly made news. Now President Donald Trump has waded into the controversy, issuing an executive order aimed at bolstering free speech on college campuses.
In his executive order, the president has directed federal agencies to ensure that colleges receiving federal research funds “promote free enquiry” and that private colleges receiving federal funds comply with their stated free speech policies.
The order states that colleges should not “creat[e] environments that stifle competing perspectives.” It also says that “it is the policy of the federal government to encourage institutions to foster environments that promote open, intellectually engaging, and diverse debate.”
In some high-profile cases, speakers invited by conservative groups have been shouted down or disinvited from speaking on college campuses. These incidents have garnered the notice of President Trump, who has praised some of the speakers.
It is unclear how much of an effect this executive order will have, since the schools affected are already bound by constitutional free speech guarantees. It may give the federal government a tool to use if egregious instances are reported, however.
Do you think that colleges and universities should do more to protect free speech? What role should the federal government play in policing free speech conflicts on campus?