President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that will protect free speech on college campuses. High partisan tensions have resulted in numerous conservative speakers having offers to speak on campus rescinded in the face of protests and public outcry.
Trump claimed his executive action was a “historic action to defend American students and American values” and that conservative students have been “under siege.”
Trump further lambasted the environment on college campuses, arguing: “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.”
Public and private universities will now be required to certify that they comply with the First Amendment. Previously, private universities were not strictly beholden to the First Amendment but public universities generally were. Those universities who are found to be in violation of the First Amendment could have federal funding blocked.
At the signing ceremony, Trump was joined on stage by Hayden Williams, a conservative activist who was assaulted at the University of California-Berkeley. Williams had been staffing a recruitment table when activist Zachary Greenberg punched him. The incident was caught on camera. Greenberg has since been charged with felonies stemming from the incident.
College campuses have become hotspots for liberal and conservative protesters who have on occasion clashed with one another. This should come as no surprise, since universities have long been vital for America’s social fabric and the expression of ideas.
However, some conservatives claim that campuses have turned toxic, refusing to accommodate those who do not possess liberal views.