College PC

Trump Vows That an Executive Order on Campus Free Speech Is Coming 'Very Soon'

An official tells Reason that a draft of the EO targets federal grants to universities and colleges.

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On Saturday, President Trump promised CPAC 2019 attendees that he would soon sign an executive order to force universities and colleges to do a better job protecting the free speech rights of students.

"Today I am proud to announce that I will be very soon signing an executive order requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research dollars," said Trump.

The White House declined to answer The New York Times' questions about the matter. But an official with knowledge of the executive order confirmed to Reason that a draft exists. Indeed, the plan is to penalize universities that do not protect free speech by taking away their federal grants.

To justify the executive order, Trump referenced an incident involving Hayden Williams, a young conservative activist who was punched in the face at the University of California, Berkeley, while helping with recruitment for the conservative advocacy group Turning Point USA. The police arrested a suspect on Friday. Neither Williams nor his presumed assailant are Berkeley students.

Whether free speech is currently in crisis on college campuses is a hotly debated issue. There are plenty of examples of students at a number of campuses enduring free speech violations—often at the hands of other students or college administrators—over the years, though evidence of a systemic or worsening epidemic is not as compelling.

To the extent there is a college free speech problem, much of it is cultural. As I explain in my forthcoming book, Panic Attack: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump (pre-order here), there are some far-left activist students who view speech with which they disagree as a form of violence, and they insist on shutting down controversial speakers on self-defense grounds. It is this tiny illiberal minority making life difficult: When they threaten violence against conservative speakers, they force university administrations to spend more money on security—costs that are sometimes passed along to other students.

It's not obvious that a presidential order would really address the cultural dimensions of the campus free speech issue. It might, however, worsen a very different problem: executive overreach. Congress, after all, is tasked with funding higher education, not the president.

The education system must do more to uphold the First Amendment, and to encourage students to cherish the principles of a free society. But a top-down, unilateral imposition on colleges and universities does not strike me as the best idea.

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102 responses to “Trump Vows That an Executive Order on Campus Free Speech Is Coming 'Very Soon'

    1. Out of curiosity, how did you end up at a low traffic burlesque site?

      1. He started at a high traffic burlesque site and started giving them recommendations.

        1. There can be no tolerance for any “burlesque” forum, whether online or otherwise, a fact the executive action should make clear along with its strong protections for our national movement. Incidentally, it appears that the president of an institution called the “University of Chicago,” which is apparently located somewhere in that city, has distributed an inappropriate statement resisting our national leader’s plan, claiming that “potential Federal engagement on this issue would threaten the mission of institutions of higher education.” Clearly this fellow is a fool who doesn’t realize that Unpresidented Action is needed at once, both to protect the Movement, and to limit some of the fake, and highly prurient, “free speech” spreading around American campuses. For a pertinent case in point, see the documentation of our nation’s leading criminal “satire” case at:

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  1. Your instincts are correct. This EO would likely follow ADL/SPLC guidelines to establish a ‘free speech zone’ for specific time periods on the outer fringes of campus and then criminalize speech anywhere/any time else. They also require separation barriers to be established between the factions and it would be a crime to cross over from one area to the other. I lived in Jerusalem 2 years ago and they used all these tactics to instigate the various factions. They were not to protect us from Muslims – but from our fellow Jews. Let’s not import them.

  2. Campus censorship problems are primarily precipitated by ‘left-wing extremists’ solely in the minds of right-wing faux libertarians.

    Nearly every campus controlled by conservatives in America is a fourth-tier, censorship-shackled goober farm that suppresses science and warps history to flatter superstition and promote wingnut dogma.

    Our nation’s strong schools are liberal-libertarian mainstream institutions that occasionally and mistakenly stifle expression. Right-wing schools, meanshile, systematically and continuously engage in strident censorship, reject academic freedom, collect loyalty oaths, enforce old-timey speech and conduct codes, struggle to maintain sketchy accreditation, and teach nonsense. Teaching nonsense to gullible rubes is the mission of conservative-controlled campuses.

    Carry on, clingers. So far as a Regent, Hillsdale, Liberty, Grove City, Wheaton, Biola, or Ouachita Baptist degree could carry anyone, that is.

    Your betters will make do with Berkeley, Penn, Harvard, Michigan, Reed, Columbia, and hundreds of other public and private, reason-based, liberal-libertarian schools.

    1. You need new material. This is getting old and stale.

      1. It doesn’t even really make sense either.

        1. It never does.

          1. Even where true, Pell Grants and the like, which are aid to the students, aside, the kinds of schools our troll mentions get very little in Federal research aid. The Ivies, their “peer institutions” and your local Enormous State get the most of that. Those State Us, by the way, have an obligation to uphold the first amendment, and cognate clauses of state constitutions, that The Rev. Unca Bubba’s Bait Shop and Bible College does not have. Needless to say, all such state schools should be privatized, and the student loan and grant operations of the government should be, too. No govt cash, no First Amendment problem.

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    3. Actually, MIT and CalTech are better than those you mentioned, as are IIT (Mumbai) and the Beijing Institute of Technology, for example.
      Harvard and the others you mentioned are overrated and linger on due to inertia, reputation (and lots of money).

      1. MIT and CalTech are really rather liberal, in so far as the student body goes. Not quite as liberal as Haavaard and other ivies but there are a lot of very idealistic students at MIT and Caltech researching green technology etc. The minority of conservatives often go into finance where they can make real money manipulating currencies and running hedge funds.

        There are a lot of very smart SJW young people studying tech. Where do you think all the Google hires come from?

    4. …and with that, the bitchy, bitter, anthropomorphic Sand in Hillary’s Vagina, lacking any self-awareness, was cast away to the Nine Vectors by the wind, never to be seen again.

      And there was much rejoicing.

      The end.

    5. Every campus censorship problem was primarily preciptated by the left-wing extremist students, faculty and administrators of the universities trying to shut down unwanted conservative speakers through administrative fiat, intimidation, or physical violence.

    6. teaching nonsense is the stock in trade of most universities, left and right.

    7. I hope someone murders and mutilates you.

    8. “liberal-libertarian for State Terrorism”

      Libertarian Moment

  3. Ugh. This is going to be a mess, most likely.

    The way to solve this isn’t to use government force, it’s just to shine a light on the issue. Give as much attention to the people who equate speech with violence as you possibly can, and then make them defend that position. The more they air out how stupid it is, the easier it is to dismiss them.

    1. You’d think. And yet, they aren’t being dismissed.

      And I think you’re missing a point here, that these schools are receiving funds from the govt. As long as they take that money, they have an obligation to adhere to the law, especially the Constitution. As a taxpayer I see nothing wrong with holding their feet to the fire on this.

      That said, yes, it will be bungled and messy as you said, but I find that to be unavoidable.

      1. I suspect this will go over just as well as the executive orders dealing with title IX.

        And I wonder if you’re not seeing what I’m seeing. After that whole ConcernedStudent1950 debacle at Missouri, where some snowflake literally went on a starvation diet because the President wouldn’t resign (and Melissa Click threatened to beat up a journalism student who wanted to get some pictures), the university of Missouri got hammered and enrollment dropped drastically.

        It just takes the right kind of attention on how badly these administrations are dealing with these issues.

        1. I think you’re picking a few very obvious outliers and then extrapolating them to widespread phenomena.

          1. Ultimately it comes down to this: Freedom of speech, of expression, is a natural right. It’s not granted by the government, the government has merely signed a contract with the people of the United States that prevents it from interfering with free speech.

            Government can’t force free speech upon an institution. It’s ultimately not going to work and will require a great commitment of government resources into an area where government is already meddling too much. What’s worse is the implication of it, that the government is the one protecting free speech on campus, since now there’s an executive order enforcing it. If the next president comes and reverses that executive order, does it imply that there’s no longer freedom of speech on a college campus? It doesn’t, and it shouldn’t, and yet it will look like that. Once this is in place, if it’s a disaster, undoing it may still cause problems.

            1. “Government can’t force free speech upon an institution.”

              What do you mean by this? You phrased it strangley.

            2. If gov’t can’t use force vs. someone who’s beating you up because of your speech or whatever, what good is gov’t?

              1. Fuck off Hihn. And take your McGoo sock with you.

                1. For the majority of students, the “institution” is part of the government. State Us and community colleges have to follow the First Amendment or statet equivalent, even if they didn’t get a penny of Federal aid.

            3. re: “Government can’t force free speech upon an institution.”

              When that institution is itself an arm of the government, yes it can. In fact, it can be required to. I’m not sure that an executive order is the optimal approach to solving the problem but as long as the government and higher education business choose to entangle themselves, the government is responsible for enforcing the law.

        2. And I wonder if you’re not seeing what I’m seeing. After that whole ConcernedStudent1950 debacle at Missouri, where some snowflake literally went on a starvation diet because the President wouldn’t resign (and Melissa Click threatened to beat up a journalism student who wanted to get some pictures), the university of Missouri got hammered and enrollment dropped drastically.

          But there is zero evidence of Missouri changing and Click had no problem getting hired at Gonzaga in spite of her noted love of free speech and all.

      2. A Thinking Mind has a point. The federal government should not fund private organizations which provide education, period.

        1. Agreed. However, as lomg as they do, holding them to the law is the only position that makes sense.

          1. This slippery slope is what led to Gary Johnson’s coercive stance toward bakers.

            1. No, Gary Johnson’s spinelessness did that. There is no slippery slope because there is no Federal Law the baker needed to adhere to.

            2. I mean, what is your alternative? NOT holding them to the law while they take the money?

      3. Tulpa’s got this right.

        1. Thanks. Now fuck ofc Hihn.

    2. The more they air out how stupid it is, the easier it is to dismiss them.

      A noble vision.

    3. the ones equating speech with violence are always the ones resorting to the violence.

  4. evidence of a systemic or worsening epidemic is not as compelling.

    Evidence is for pussies. A thing is a crisis if Sean Hannity says it’s a crisis. Are the sheep not bleating loudly enough?

    1. Global Warming says Hi.

      1. One specific observation :

        (1) Tulpa compares the massive evidence and scientific consensus re global warming, with the right-wing obsession over a handful of anecdotal incidents at a few universities. What a fascinating glimpse of right-wing “logic” at work…..

        Two general observations

        (1) My, but isn’t Trump growing ever desperate? You see this in his attempt to trash the Constitution with his fake emergency, merely from panic over criticism by clowns like Coulter and Limbaugh. You see it in his sudden passion on abortion. And now this. What happens when our sweaty president runs out of fresh red meat to throw to the base.

        (2) I’ve never been a fan of the phrase “first-world problem” – whether it’s used against self-indulgent navel-gazing of the Right or Left. Either something is a problem or not, and I admit there’s occasional silliness in the rarefied atmosphere of some universities. But the Right’s obsession over this is often ludicrous. I swear there are times I go on the National Review’s site and ever other story is this silliness. First world problem indeed….

        1. The right is assessed with making sure violence is not used to silence free speech and dissenting opinion and this is bad how?

        2. “(1) Tulpa compares the massive evidence and scientific consensus re global warming, with the right-wing obsession over a handful of anecdotal incidents at a few universities. ”

          Libertarians for the Black Shirt beatings of political dissent.

    2. “Evidence is for pussies.”

      Another dumb as shit Tony opening

    3. You’re the biggest fucking retard ever to waste oxygen.

  5. “The plan is to penalize universities that do not protect free speech by taking away their federal grants.”

    If VMI can’t exclude women because that violates the 14th Amendment and they accept taxpayer funds, then if a university’s speech polices violate the First Amendment, why should they be eligible for taxpayer funds?

    If you don’t like speech policies that are consistent with the First Amendment, then you’re free to use private funds exclusively–just like VMI should be free to exclude women so long as they forgo taxpayer funds.

    1. I agree that any university that accepts federal money should be accountable to The First Amendment. On the other hand, Trump’s proposed executive order to de-fund university research money is silly. No president controls the federal budget. Trump couldn’t de-fund sanctuary cities. He can’t de-fund universities.

      1. But he has a pen and a phone! That worked for the last guy!

        1. “It’s only Hitler when Whitey does it”

      2. The Title IX Dear Colleague letter was a real winner by the Big O.

        1. It’s easier when your demands are what the schools wanted to do.

          I hope courts remember this with all of those suits. Schools did nothing to fight against the Dear Colleague letter because they WANTED to do it.

      3. Not to mention this is an extremely dangerous precedent.

        Can you imagine Elizabeth Warren executive ordering withholding of funds from public universities because of speech they did or did not support to her liking? it’s a BAD precedent.

        The courts are there to determine 1st amendment violations let them do it.

      4. re: “Trump … can’t de-fund universities.”

        Actually, yes he can under the same legal reasoning that allows enforcement of Title IX against universities. In several important regards, those precedents are different from the sanctuary cities.

        Note: I’m not saying that he should – just that you are incorrect in flatly stating that he can’t.

        1. As others have said, universities agreed with the Dear Colleague letter. Schools wanted to clobber men in drum-head courts. No university lost a dime of federal money under Dear Colleague. Both sexual misconduct and free speech issues are for courts to settle, not for the wave of any president’s royal pen.

  6. “It’s not obvious that a presidential order would really address the cultural dimensions of the campus free speech issue.”

    I can address the cultural dimensions of campus free speech right now: Hate speech rules are inconsistent with the First Amendment, so fuck you.

    That’s as much as the cultural dimensions of the campus free speech issue ever deserve to be addressed.

  7. “It’s not obvious that a presidential order would really address the cultural dimensions of the campus free speech issue.”

    If the Supreme Court rules that creationism can’t be taught in public schools because doing so violates the First Amendment, that doesn’t really address the cultural dimensions of the First Amendment’s establishment clause either–but why should we give a shit about that?

  8. Yeah I really doubt that this EO will do much to change anything. But hey it will fire up Trump’s base when he tells them that he’s sticking it to those lefty professors.

      1. He sounds like a guy who wants to import child rapists. Because he is a guy who wants to import child rapists.

  9. Like farts in the wind, this is the college life.

    1. …all we are is farts in the wind.

  10. I would have thought that if political discrimination by colleges/universities violated acts of Congress, this fact would have been discovered by now.

    Congress passed various antidiscrimination laws, but did not include political belief or affiliation as a protected class. So how can private colleges, at least, be restricted in their ability to discriminate politically?

    I know there are campus crime laws, so maybe an executive order can deal with stuff like riots against controversial speakers, but dealing with it as a crime issue, not as a free expression issue.

    Have I missed something?

    1. You missed the part where the DOJ joined the Democratic Party.

      Power is used to crush your enemies, not your friends. Duh.

  11. Trump cares not a bit for the rule of law, for free speech, for the Constitution, nor for any notion of normative limitations on what he is empowered to do. What he intends with this is what he has intended each of the other times he has announced some limitless, culture-war inspired intervention he suggests government can impose on the nation. His intention each time is to model for his base what totalitarian rule by him, according to the tastes of his supporters, would look like.

  12. Trump cares not a bit for the rule of law, for free speech, for the Constitution, nor for any notion of normative limitations on what he is empowered to do. What he intends with this is what he has intended each of the other times he has announced some limitless, culture-war inspired intervention he suggests government can impose on the nation. His intention each time is to model for his base what totalitarian rule by him, according to the tastes of his supporters, would look like.

    1. Yea support for 1A is just what you said NOT. What a fucking incoherent rant.

    2. You sound smart.

    3. Do you have a newsletter I can follow?

  13. Constitution is clear. Congress controls the budget. No executive order is going to cut funding to universities. Trump can huff and puff all he wants.

    1. The First Amendment is also pretty darn clear.

      1. I agree. The First amendment should apply to all universities that receive government support. That wouldn’t validate Trump’s executive order. Students and others should protected by the First Amendment, not by another piece of Trump BS.

  14. Live comedy shows mocking a sitting president will have to wait a while longer for their free speech executive order.

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  17. The government shouldn’t try to engage in changing the culture of anyone. Their job is protect the rights of citizens including free speech and you can watch video after video of leftist “shutting down” speakers on youtube whether it’s by shouting them down, keeping supporters from attending their presentations or actually rioting.

  18. “When they threaten violence against conservative speakers, they force university administrations to spend more money on security?costs that are sometimes passed along to other students.”

    Yeah, right. You’re not that gullible, are you?

    The university administrations WANT to shut down conservative speakers. To that end they encourage the left wing wackos, in order to be provided with a pretext for imposing onerous fees on the conservative organizations, or just shut them down for “safety” reasons. In return for this service, the left-wing wackos are shielded by the administrations; If conservatives tried behaving in exactly the same way, they’d be expelled so fast they’d leave a vapor trail behind them on their way out. But somehow this never happens to the left-wing goons, or hadn’t you noticed?

    It’s similar to what went down in Charlottesville: The right-wing group only got its parade permit because of a court order, so the local government invited in left-wing goons, and saw to it that they had the chance to clash with the right-wing group, so as to be provided with a pretext for shutting down a public demonstration they didn’t want to permit in the first place.

    It’s a standard operating procedure on the left. The goon squads and the local government/administration are in a symbiotic relationship, which is why you don’t see the goon squads showing up anywhere that the local government isn’t on their side.

    1. Oh good Lord. This is conspiratorial nonsense. If there’s one thing that university administrators are NOT, it is wild-eyed radicals. They are risk-averse bureaucrats, first and foremost. They don’t want bad publicity to scare away prospective students or faculty.

      1. They ought to be risk-averse bureaucrats. At one time they were.

        Today they’re risk averse political activists.

      2. 1) you’re an idiot

        2) you want to import child rapists

      3. chemjeff radical individualist|3.4.19 @ 6:44AM|#

        Oh good Lord. This is conspiratorial nonsense. If there’s one thing that university administrators are NOT, it is wild-eyed radicals. They are risk-averse bureaucrats, first and foremost. They don’t want bad publicity to scare away prospective students or faculty.

        ——————–

        HHAHahahahahhaaa – where do you live, in Neverneverland ?

    2. Bingo, we have a winner. Can you imagine anyone daring to say a nary word at a campus BLM protest.

      A Ben Shapiro speech is considered “dangerous”.

      It wouldn’t take a ton of security at the next radical!(LOL) conservative speech if the U president stated:

      1) He or She is speaking because we believe in free speech
      2) We will video the entire event.
      3) Those who wish to shut down free speech or engage in acts of violence or vandalism will be expelled.

      Then just do it. It will only take one time,.

      1. “Those who wish to shut down free speech or engage in acts of violence will be expelled prosecuted for terrorism.”

        FTFY

  19. You mean it isn’t ok for antifa to attack those who have hate speech?

    Isn’t that part of the communist constitution?

  20. When they threaten violence against conservative speakers, they force university administrations to spend more money on security?costs that are sometimes passed along to other students.

    So that’s why college costs $50,000 per year.

    1. “When they threaten violence against conservative speakers”

      They are engaged in *terrorism*, and should be prosecuted accordingly.

      Antifa is international terrorism.

  21. Great, an executive order forcing universities to host Ben Shapiro. That’s the pretext here. It’s an ironic executive order. He’s mad that universities tilt left and this is his wedge to get conservatives into them.

    1. No, we’re annoyed we have to pay money to have our voices suppressed. Want to be an echo chamber? Fine. Fund that shit yourself. Don’t ask me for a fucking penny.

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  23. Get rid of public universities. Problem solved!

  24. “But a top-down, unilateral imposition on colleges and universities does not strike me as the best idea.”

    It’s the only thing universities listen to these days.

    1. Reason, opposed to the imposition of the 1st Amendment.

      “Libertarian Moment!”

      1. if Obama, or somebody else they considered sufficiently cool for the cocktail party circuit , did this theyd be squealing like school girls at a Bieber concert.

  25. How much are your rights worth?

  26. When the money is “top-down”, so are the strings.

    To get government out of the speech patrol business, stop the federal funding…

  27. Top-down is what Trump is all about.

  28. I’m really not sure how, ‘obey the first amendment of get no cash from tax dollars’ is an imposition.

    Is it because they thought they could clamp down on the right forever without worrying about repercussions?

    Why, yes. Yes it is.

    And look at Robby–a prime example of the fact that the leopard doesn’t change his shorts.

  29. “Congress, after all, is tasked with funding higher education, not the president.” Uh, refresh my memory, by whom is the Congress tasked with funding higher education? I can’t find that in my copy of the Constitution, which, after all, is the document which delineates Congress’s functions.

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