President Trump just signed an Executive Order requiring colleges and universities to uphold free speech or risk losing federal research and education grants.
“Universities that want taxpayer dollars should promote free speech, not silence free speech,” President Trump said at the White House on Thursday. “People who are confident in their beliefs should not censor others.”
The order lays out the administration’s policy of creating environments that, “promote open, intellectually engaging, and diverse debate.” It states that the 12 executive agencies that give money to colleges will take the appropriate steps to, “ensure institutions that receive Federal research or education grants promote free inquiry, including through compliance with all applicable Federal laws, regulations, and policies.”
The order does not effect any forms of financial aid such as student loans or grants, a significant source of federal funding for universities.
However, there are no specifics given as to what steps these agencies will take to ensure compliance. Considering that free speech on college campuses is already protected by the First Amendment, it’s unlikely that universities will face any immediate impact from the E.O.
President Trump also addressed the growing student debt crisis, and called for more transparency when it comes to the cost and outcomes of attending college.
“This order will also empower students with valuable information about the programs they take on,” he said.
The order states that students and families should have more information to understand that, “not all institutions, degrees, or fields of study provide similar returns on investment.” The White House proposal directs the Education Department to examine policy ideas such as risk-sharing, requiring colleges to have skin in the game when it comes to student loans.