By: Alex Polakow
This past Saturday at CPAC, President Trump announced what can be seen by everyone as an unequivocal good. He announced a proposed executive order to promote freedom of speech on college campuses. This comes in the wake of the incident at UC Berkeley in which a recruiter for a conservative group was punched in the face. Our president invited the man, Hayden Williams, up onto the stage before the announcement. Trump gave a statement to those who refused to cooperate with the order: “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. Free speech. If they don’t, it will be very costly.”
In regards to the cost, federal funding will no longer be given to the universities. This may not seem to be a huge consequence. However, last year, Trump signed a bill that allowed for over three trillion dollars to be spent on higher education. Trump has done one of the first things to protect conservative voices on campuses. As many people are finding out, college is not exactly the free podium to openly spread ideas anymore. Left wing bias has infected the higher education system over the years. An article published in the academic journal “Theory and Society”, states that professors on college campuses are “more liberal than other Americans.” Many conservative speakers have been shouted down from speaking their views on college campuses including Milo Yiannopoulos, Ben Shapiro, and Steven Crowder. More and more reports of assaults on MAGA hat wearing citizens reveal a cultural bias against conservatives being perpetuated across society. The beginning of this cultural bias starts in colleges. When an echo chamber of a single idea is propagated, the alternatives become easy to dismiss as hateful or wrong. While people may disagree with others, the correct way to go about it is to attempt to change their mind, not censor them. Censorship is the first step towards fascism. Many argue that our president is a fascist, yet he has gone out of his way to protect the freedom of speech this great country was founded on. Frankly, this executive order should never be needed, and it is a sad state this country is in when the First Amendment is required to be upheld through consequences rather than the virtue of our society. The vow to cut funding of research grants and other federal aid may not be enough for a few truly private universities, but the vast majority of private colleges receive many more federal dollars than would be first apparent. This federal funding would be from loans to students and research grants, which are more often than not very generous for overhead costs.
Hopefully the executive order will be enough to deter future censorship on college campuses, allowing them to truly be forum of free thought and speech. In a rather rocky presidency, this can be pointed to as an action that directly upholds the Constitution that so many say Trump threatens to undermine.