President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Thursday that seeks to crack down on colleges and universities that curb free speech on their campuses, promising to withhold federal funding if they fail to comply.
Ahead of the signing, Trump invited college students to speak, according to CBS News. One described being told by her college administrators that she could not hand out Valentines with religious messages on them, and another said she was told a trigger warning would be required in order to share her message about abortion on campus.
All of that will soon change, Trump promised, because his administration will require public universities to comply with his administration’s policies on freedom of speech and expression on their campuses.
“Under the policy I am announcing today, federal agencies will use their authority under various grant-making programs to ensure that public universities protect, cherish, protect the First Amendment and First Amendment rights of their students,” the president said.
If colleges do not abide the Trump administration’s standards, they will “risk losing billions and billions of dollars of federal taxpayer dollars,” the president said.
Trump said the federal government provides $35 billion each year to universities in research funding, and “all of that money is now at stake.”
The president said “if a college or university does not allow you to speak, we will not give them money, it’s very simple.”
This executive order will be the first of several steps the administration will take to encourage schools to allow free speech, Trump said, hinting that the next move will involve putting pressure on private colleges to stop saying they allow freedom of expression when in fact they do not.
Conservatives have long complained that liberal universities and colleges do not allow opposing viewpoints to be shared on campuses.
The president also talked at some length about the issue of student loan debt, promising that his administration is looking “very seriously” at ways to ease the burden for current debt-holders and make higher education more accessible for future students.