President Donald Trump said he plans to issue an executive order to force universities to guarantee that free speech is protected on their campuses by threatening to withhold their federal aid if they don’t protect the viewpoints of students from all political backgrounds.
According to a New York Times report, Trump announced his plans during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, on Saturday.
“If they want our dollars, and we give it to them by the billions, they’ve got to allow people like Hayden and many other great young people and old people to speak,” Trump told conference attendees during his two-hour-long speech.
Trump was referring to Hayden Williams, a Turning Point USA volunteer who was assaulted last month at the University of California-Berkeley while recruiting new members for the conservative student group.
On February 22, UC Berkeley police arrested 28-year-old Zachary Greenberg on charges of punching Williams.
Just last week, the Utah House of Representatives passed a bill that prohibits colleges and universities from punishing speech that doesn’t fall under the Supreme Court’s definition of harassment in the 1999 ruling in Davis vs. Monroe County Board of Education.
“Our higher education institutions have an obligation to do two things in this space,” representative Kim Coleman, a sponsor of the bill, said. “One is to prevent speech that is not protected in the harassment of other students as well as to protect speech that is protected.”
According to a recent report released by the FIRE foundation, nine out of ten colleges in the U.S. restrict free expression by students and faculty. Three out of seven Ivy League schools – Harvard University, Princeton University, and Dartmouth College – were rated as censors by the report.