President Donald Trump signed an executive order promoting free speech on university campuses on Wednesday at the White House in front of conservative student activists.
“Today, we are delivering a clear message to the professors and power structures trying to suppress, to keep young Americans and all Americans from challenging ridged far left ideology,” Trump said. “People who are confident in their beliefs cannot censor others.”
The executive order signed by the president requires universities to certify that they support free speech on campus in order to receive federal research grants.
“Taxpayer dollars should not subsidize anti-First amendment institutions, and that’s exactly what they are,” Trump said. “Universities that want taxpayer dollars should promote free speech, not silence free speech.”
The president said that the $35 billion in federal government research grants would only be given to colleges that could certify their support of free speech and the open exchange of ideas.
“If a college or a university does not allow you to speak, we will not give them money, it’s very simple,” Trump said.
He welcomed three student activists on stage to speak, following news of their public fights against university bureaucrats who tried to silence them.
“Under the guise of speech codes and safe spaces and trigger warnings, these universities have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity and shut down the voices of great young Americans like those here today,” Trump said. “All of that changes starting right now.”
Students for Life’s Ellen Whitman spoke about her fight with her college after administrators tried to block her from installing an exhibit of crosses representing the lives lost because of abortion.
Turning Point USA chapter President Katie Mullen, a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who was harassed and bullied by administrators for running a conservative booth, also spoke.
Polly Olsen, a student at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, sued after administrators tried to restrict her from handing out “Jesus Loves You” Valentines inspired by scripture.
“It’s really the core of America’s freedom and without freedom of speech, we don’t have America anymore,” Olsen said. “And so I challenge America to learn to love one another as Christ did on the cross for each one of us and to speak your differences, it’s ok, we’re in a country of freedom.”
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