An executive order by President Trump seeking to protect free speech on college campuses — especially by Christians and political conservatives — has drawn mixed responses.
Conservatives applauded Trump’s effort to protect free speech, though at least one Republican senator questioned the president’s specific approach. Some liberal groups claimed the executive order might actually inhibit the free exchange of ideas at colleges and universities.
Carol Swain, a former Vanderbilt University law professor who came under fire on campus for her conservative views, told Baptist Press, “President Trump’s executive order on free speech in higher education is a step in the right direction when it comes to affirming our national interest in protecting our First Amendment rights and privileges.
“The executive order, if it is taken seriously by university administrators, should help address some of the blatant discrimination against conservatives and Christians on college and university campuses,” Swain said via email. “Young people need exposure to diverse opinions to develop critical thinking skills. Our institutions of higher education should not be liberal indoctrination mills for people obsessed with political correctness. We must dedicate ourselves to creating environments where honest debate can transpire among ideologically diverse faculty.”
At a March 21 White House signing ceremony, Trump claimed some universities “have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity and shut down the voices of great young Americans” under “the guise of ‘speech codes’ and ‘safe spaces’ and ‘trigger warnings.'”
Appearing with Trump at the ceremony were students who allegedly had their freedom of speech stifled on college and university campuses. One student reportedly was required to post warning signs about her pro-life display at Miami University in Ohio. Another allegedly was stopped by officials at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College when she handed out homemade Valentine’s Day cards with messages like “You are special” and “Jesus loves you.”
The executive order directs federal agencies to deny research and education grants to public universities that violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech and private universities that fail to abide by their own free speech codes. Separate sections of the order require schools to publish average earnings and loan repayment rates of former students who received federal student aid.
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Source: Baptist Press