March 9, 2019
At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last weekend, President Trump made a promise to protect free speech on college campuses across the country. Conservative activist Hayden Williams joined him on stage as an example of the need for protected free speech. While assisting the University of California at Berkeley’s Turning Point USA chapter, he was punched in the face by an individual who did not agree with him. The President announced he would soon sign an executive order requiring colleges to take measures to protect our Constitutional right to free speech if they want to continue receiving federal money.
Williams is not the only person whose rights has been violated on a college campus. Several colleges have cancelled or banned Conservative speakers like Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopulos. theFIRE.org tracks disinvitation attempts across all campuses noting whether the action was from the Right or the Left. Since 2000, they have recorded 379 instances, with nearly 25% of those occurring from 2016-2018 alone. In those two years, a whopping 82% of disinvitations have been because of the Left’s doing.
Violent protestors have overtaken some of their events as well. Instead of these colleges reprimanding students for oppressing the free speech of others and participating in illegal activities, administrators have went to the extreme by designating “free speech zones.” These very small areas are intended to be the only spaces on campus where students can express their views. How will our young generations learn how to think for themselves when they are inundated with only one ideology and then forced to suppress their dissenting views?
Organizations like Speech First and Alliance Defending Freedom are fighting against these injustices by representing students who have been mistreated. Even the Department of Justice has weighed in on several of these cases. They are ensuring that students will be able to think and speak freely for many generations to come. President Trump’s executive order would aid in that fight.
Eagle Forum State Leaders have worked with their state legislatures to advance Campus Free Speech legislation with the advice of Stanley Kurtz who has spoken on leader calls and at Eagle Council. He has suggested that a long-term solution would be educating students in classically liberal intellectual values. In the meantime, legislation on campus free speech and President Trump’s executive order will uphold the rights of those on college campuses. We will keep you up-to-date on the progress being made.