Trump officially signs free speech exec. order: If schools censor, 'we will not give them money'

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday intended to require institutions of higher education to “improv[e] transparency and promot[e] free speech” or risk losing their federal research funding.

In a document provided to the media, the Trump administration reiterated its commitment to “ensuring” that higher education will be a place of “free thought and debate” and that public schools should “fulfill their obligation to uphold the First Amendment.” The executive order comes after Trump’s declaration of intent at the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), when the president invited Hayden Williams, a conservative who was punched in the face at the University of California-Berkeley earlier this year, up on stage.

[RELATED: Trump: Hayden Williams ‘took a hard punch in the face for all of us’ (VIDEO)]

Williams, who is an employee of Campus Reform’s parent organization, the Leadership Institute, joined Trump at the White House during the signing Thursday, along with several other conservatives and students who have experienced violations of constitutional rights on college campuses across the country.

During his remarks, Trump noted that if “a college or university does not allow you to speak, we will not give them money.” His message was clear: protect students’ rights “or risk losing billions and billions of federal tax-payer dollars.”

“The Trump Administration believes that schools should promote free speech and be transparent about their speech policies,” according to a senior administration official.

[RELATED: At UF, squelching conservative speech is routine (OPINION)]

The Trump administration also encouraged “agencies to use their authorities over Federal grant programs to promote free and open debate on campus” and added that the order is “intended to promote free inquiry and open debate on college and university campuses; to provide students the data they need to select schools that work for them; and to give the public better information to hold schools accountable for student outcomes." 

The order also addresses student finance, responsible borrowing, and financial risk sharing.

Along with protecting students’ right to free speech, the order will enable the Department of Education to “make improvements to its mobile a

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How a communist dictator poster spurred me to demand free speech on campus (OPINION)

Back in October 2018, my organization, Turning Point USA at the University of Utah, presented a poster campaign for Hispanic Heritage Month. However, we were called out for discriminatory harassment and people thought we were targeting certain groups, none of which were named. 

 What for? Just for a poster campaign of socialist and communist dictators, such as Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, with the words #SocialismKills, #CommunismKills, and #FreedomforLatinAmerica.

The university approved and stamped our posters, but they were eventually removed from the approved locations. 

We did not intend to cause harm to anyone and were fighting for freedom in Latin American countries, especially those that have been under socialist and communist regimes.

We did a tabling event based on our poster campaign. Then administration members came and spoke to us, suggesting that we were possibly targeting certain groups (without telling us which groups they were). One administrator said that she slept “very little” with these posters coming to her mind. Tabling with me were former Leadership Institute field representative for Utah Jakub Nowak, the field director for Turning Point USA, and a member of UU’s TPUSA chapter. The Leadership Institute is the parent organization of Campus Reform.

[RELATED: Brandeis deems Jewish group’s posters an act of hate]

Someone even placed a note on one of our posters that read, “Never forget 9-11 (1973) when American capitalist pigs overthrew the elected government of [Salvador] Allende in Chile,” mentioning the torture and murder of a singer and Augusto Pinochet’s rise to power.

UU’s Student Conduct Hearing Administrator emailed several TPUSA members saying that our posters “may have been falsely approved by the university.” However, after meeting with the former president of TPUSA and me, he emailed us and clarified that I “followed the appropriate protocol for approving the posters that [we]re in question.”

But this incident was not the end of me working to defend free speech on college campuses. It was the start.

Last year, I testified on two campus free speech bills during the Utah Legislative Session, both sponsored by Utah Republican state Rep. Kim Coleman. At the time, I was interning for Americans for Prosperity – Utah, which wanted me to testify on these bills. One of t

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NYU journalism school hires reporter who resigned over Nazi tweet

New York University has hired a former New Yorker journalist who resigned after falsely reporting that an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent had a Nazi tattoo.

The school has employed Talia Lavin, a former fact-checker for the New Yorker, to be an adjunct professor and teach a fall 2019 course called “Reporting on the Far Right,” as The Wrap was one of the first to report. Lavin has a focus on “far-right extremism and social justice,” according to her university bio.

“The course will also teach students vital tactics in identifying and tracking the spread of far-right movements online,” the course description says. “With the aid of landmark investigations on the subject, and guest speakers who are working reporters on the beat, the course will teach students how to track far-right harassment campaigns to their sources and uncover the identities of white supremacist propagandists on the web.”

[RELATED: NYU seeks 'historically underrepresented minority' for new prof]

In addition, the course also teaches students “the psychological impact of reporting on hate and the threats to physical safety and mental health that the beat represents.”

“The course will address issues of online harassment, from SEO bombing to SWATting, and will present students with a comprehensive toolkit to maintain their digital safety and protect their psyches while diving deep into disturbing material,” the description continues.

Lavin’s course meets once a week for nearly four hours per class. According to the description, students need “department consent” to take the course. Lavin commented on coverage of her course, stating on Twitter “imagine having nothing better to do with your life than pounce on an unemployed 29-year-old’s side gig. Its [sic] sad.”

[RELATED: NYU shoots down anti-Israel resolution passed by student gov]

When Lavin was still working for the New Yorker and after she had first reported on the Nazi tattoo, ICE tweeted out a statement specifically calling Lavin out for the mistake she made, stating that “anyone attempting to advance their personal political opinion by baselessly slandering an American hero should be issuing public apologies to Mr. [Justin] Gaertner and retractions. This includes Levin and the New Yorker.”

While Lavin did apologize to Gaertner, the ICE agent and war

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VIDEO: Students say offensive speech is not free speech

Campus Reform's Cabot Phillips, ahead of President Donald Trump signing an executive order Thursday that is intended to address free speech on college campuses, talked with students at Marymount University in Virginia to ask them their thoughts on what type of speech should be allowed and the type of speech they think crosses a line. 

A number of students suggested that hateful, offensive, or rude speech should not be considered free speech. 

"I think if it's, like, hateful and disrespectful to specific groups, then that's not OK," one student said.

Another student suggested that "I think that you can be rude but not saying anything discriminatory know..." while another stated, "I understand you have free rights to say what you want about people but when it's, like, negatively impacting our school as a whole and other students around you, that's crossing the line." 

Trump, on Thursday, will sign an executive order that will require colleges to certify they are complying with First Amendment protections in order to receive federal research dollars, according to a senior administration official. 

The official declined to provide any more details of what exactly is in the order. 

[RELATED: Trump to require colleges to support free speech if they want federal funds]

Trump previously stated at CPAC that the order would "require colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research dollars." In anticipation of what the president initially said, Campus Reform compiled a report, based on publicly available data, showing how much colleges and universities receive in federal research funding. 

The White House did not respond in time for publication to Campus Reform's request for further comment when asked if the order will, in fact, tie federal research dollars to colleges' support of free speech, as the president initially that said it would. 


Follow the authors of this article on Twitter: @JonStreet and @Cabot_Phillips

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