President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday afternoon from the Oval Office protecting First Amendment rights on campus and condemning discrimination against conservative speech.
"We reject oppressive speech codes, censorship, political correctness, and every other attempt by the hard left to stop people from challenging ridiculous and dangerous ideas. These ideas are dangerous. Instead, we believe in free speech, including online and including on campus," Trump released in a statement.
We are here today to take historic action to defend American Students and American Values. In a few moments, I will be signing an Executive Order to protect FREE SPEECH on College Campuses.https://t.co/gFFnSl1bEF— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2019
The executive order allows federal government agencies to withhold grant funding from universities engaged in stifling free speech or discriminating against speech administrators politically oppose.
"Agencies will take appropriate steps to ensure that college and university campuses are places of free thought and debate. The Trump Administration believes that public schools should fulfill their obligation to uphold the First Amendment and private schools should comply with their stated institutional policies regarding free speech," the White House released. "The Trump Administration believes that schools should promote free speech and be transparent about their speech policies."
President Trump previewed the executive order during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee last month.
The White House invited a number of students from Young America's Foundation [YAF], Campus Reform, Turning Point USA, The Leadership Institute and other organizations to attend the signing.
For years YAF has issued lawsuits against universities for infringing on the free speech rights of students.
“Since his inauguration, President Trump and his administration have shown significant interest and support for the work of Young America’s Foundation and our student activists,” YAF Spokesman Spencer Brown released in a statement. “We are especially optimistic and honored to have the President building upon the work of Young America’s Foundation to protect First Amendment rights on campuses across the nation.”
"When it comes to constitutional rights, no student group has done more than Young America’s Foundation to defend free speech on high school and college campuses. In addition to our victory over UC Berkeley, Young America’s Foundation successfully defended the God-given right to free expression and free assembly against censorious administrators at the University of Texas–Austin, Kennesaw State University, the University of Virginia, and California State University–Los Angeles, to name a few. Along with these recent victories, Young America’s Foundation is currently engaged in lawsuits defending the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of students at the University of Minnesota and the University of Florida," YAF also released.
The executive order also addresses issues of overwhelming student loan debt and giving students clearer ways to make decisions about higher education.
This post has been updated with additional information.