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Trump Promises Executive Order That Could Strip Colleges of Funding if They Don't 'Support Free Speech'
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=26886"><span class="small">Brian Fung, The Washington Post</span></a>   
Sunday, 03 March 2019 14:48

Fung writes: "The announcement, during Trump's address to the Conservative Political Action Conference, appeared to target complaints by some university critics that institutions of higher education stifle right-wing viewpoints."

CPAC. (photo: Erik S. Lesser)
CPAC. (photo: Erik S. Lesser)

Trump Promises Executive Order That Could Strip Colleges of Funding if They Don't 'Support Free Speech'

By Brian Fung, The Washington Post

03 March 19


new executive order from the White House will aim to make federal research funding for colleges and universities contingent on their support for “free speech,” President Trump said Saturday.

The announcement, during Trump’s address to the Conservative Political Action Conference, appeared to target complaints by some university critics that institutions of higher education stifle right-wing viewpoints.

“If they want our dollars, and we give it to them by the billions, they’ve got to allow people like Hayden and many great young people, and old people, to speak,” Trump said, bringing onstage a young conservative, Hayden Williams, who was physically attacked last month while tabling for a conservative organization at the University of California at Berkeley.

The executive order, Trump said, would “require colleges to support free speech if they want federal research” money. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump told the CPAC crowd, meeting at National Harbor, Md., that he planned to sign the order “very soon” but did not provide specifics or say whether a draft has already been prepared.

The federal government distributes more than $26 billion a year to colleges and universities for research purposes, according to the National Science Foundation. The vast majority of that money is assigned to projects for the Pentagon, NASA, and the departments of Agriculture, Energy, and Health and Human Services.

Trump is likely on strong footing with the proposed executive order, said Cynthia Miller-Idriss, a professor of education at American University.

“There’s a history of the federal government requiring universities to do certain kinds of things in order to receive federal research funding,” she said. For example, she said, the U.S. government imposes ethical guidelines on studies involving human subjects.

But the order could disproportionately affect private colleges and universities over public ones, Miller-Idriss added, because those institutions have historically enjoyed greater leeway to determine who may speak on campus.

“If I had to wager a guess at this point,” she said, “I would say probably [the order] would be asking for private universities to follow the same kinds of things state universities have had to do, which is basically to say that if you rent space publicly, for example, you can’t control who rents that space.”

Other experts said Trump’s proposal raised serious First Amendment concerns.

“Somebody would have to decide which universities were not supporting free speech on campus,” said Catherine Ross, a professor in constitutional law at George Washington University. “Some group of Washington civil servants — or maybe even worse, political appointees — would be looking at charges of speech discrimination at various colleges and universities, and labeling them as either acceptable in terms of free speech or not acceptable. And that … is a government interference in speech.”

What’s more, she added, Trump’s policy could inadvertently disqualify many religious academic institutions from receiving federal research funding, to the extent that their religious beliefs prohibit certain views or speakers on campus.

Higher education groups swiftly pushed back against Trump’s proposed order.

“This is a solution in search of a problem that will create its own problems,” said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for the American Council on Education, which represents college and university presidents. “Free speech is a core value for research universities because it’s tied up with academic freedom. Controversies do arise, but they tend to be relatively infrequent.”

Standing onstage together, Trump praised Williams and urged him to sue the University of California at Berkeley over the incident. A university spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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-31 # Cowboy 45 2019-03-03 15:44
Great victory for conservatives who have had their rights violated on college campuses for way too long.
+5 # PeacefulGarden 2019-03-03 17:26
Ummmm? What does the campus do when the right to speech is used to express racism, hate, and violence?

Cowboy45, the next time you are in a movie theater I question your right to stand up and scream whatever babble is in your mind.

You are squeezing the "right to speak" to create a world of hatred.

And by the way, do I have the right to tell my local policeman that he can "fck off...", surely your dubious right wing mind would find fault with me expressing such language to "our nation's heroes in blue..."
-1 # Cowboy 45 2019-03-04 11:36
That is a ridiculous argument. It's not free speech if you have some person or group deciding what is and what is not allowed to be said. Why would you want to tell your local police officer to f off? Who is the hater? You have the right, it just makes you an A Hole.
+2 # Texas Aggie 2019-03-04 09:41
It's rough, isn't it. You can't even run over a woman with your car without going to jail.

What is so ironic about this is that, like their "freedom of religion," freedom only applies to them. Liberty University, Bob Jones or any of the other religious nut case schools aren't about to let an atheist come on campus and give a talk or a biologist talk about evolution. Wheaton is not about to let a non Christian talk about the rights of homosexuals. Hillsdale is not about to let someone advocate for Medicare for All.
-2 # Cowboy 45 2019-03-04 11:40
Your first comment does't apply, typical. The second is out of context, it would apply to public universities. That is what liberals do when they have lost the argument.
0 # dotlady 2019-03-03 23:39
Giving right wing radio commentators entry to the colleges and universities. Oh boy. Great for educational level. Pure Trumptator.
+2 # Citizen Mike 2019-03-04 06:01
The reason conservative opinion is not in favor at universities is that the population of professors and of college students tend to be the more intelligent segment. Intelligent people in general do not accept conservative ideas. I think conservative speakers should certainly be allowed to speak at colleges but they should be prepared to have their events largely ignored and to experience protests, which are also free speech.
+2 # SusanT136 2019-03-04 07:40
Ridiculous. How is UC Berkeley’s fault that this happened? They’re not required to provide security for someone who is on a campus recruiting for a political organization.

Obviously, it’s not acceptable for anyone to just punch someone. Whoever did it should be prosecuted for assault. But isn’t it funny how, when Heather Heyer gets killed by someone during a white nationalist demonstration, Trumps first response is that there are “very fine people” on “both sides”. But a conservative taking a punch? Shut down the campus!
+2 # Kootenay Coyote 2019-03-04 10:25
It will be interesting to see how vigourously Trump supports free criticism of his policies & himself.
+1 # elizabethblock 2019-03-04 12:43
Does free speech include pro-Palestinian speakers and organizations?

Some years ago I got into an email wrangle with someone - Steven Rosen? can't find the email - who said that a lot of professors had been fired, or had their academic careers damaged, for their support of Israel. I asked him, Like who? Name three. He couldn't think of any off the top of his head, but told me to look at the CampusWatch website, which of course tracks professors and scholars who are insufficiently Zionist.
Then I asked people in a position to know, like Norman Finkelstein. There aren't any. Of course there are plenty who have lost their jobs because they do NOT support Israel.
0 # NAVYVET 2019-03-04 20:25
IGNORE THE TROLLS! Answering these boneheads just pumps them up. Giving them a negative grade is enough.