July 17, 2019 | 78° F

Trump signs executive order linking federal research funds to campus free speech

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President Donald J. Trump said that the executive order was a first in a "series of steps" the administration would take to defend free speech for students. He did not specify what exactly those next steps would be.

President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order to ensure colleges uphold free speech by threatening to withhold billions in federal research funding, according to an article by USA Today. 

“My administration seeks to promote free and open debate on college and university campuses,” the executive order stated. “Free inquiry is an essential feature of our nation’s democracy.”

The order was issued in response to voiced concerns by conservatives that college campuses have been too liberal, according to the article. Conservatives are concerned that some colleges and their faculty have been leery of conservative speakers and have unfairly labeled some of their ideas of bigoted.

Trump said that the signing was a first in a “series of steps” the administration would take to defend the free speech of students. Trump did not specify what the next steps would be, according to the article. 

“Rutgers’ position on free speech is clear: All members of our community, including faculty, staff and students, are free to express their viewpoints in public forums. At Rutgers, we also strive to foster an environment where the rights of all are protected,” said Dory Devlin, the senior director of University Media and Public Relations. 

The University received $299.6 million in federal funding for research in the fiscal year 2018, Devlin said. At this time, it is unclear if Rutgers’ funding will be affected, as the order did not specify the criteria for cutting a public university’s federal funding, according to the article. 

The Daily Targum reported last semester that Lisa Daftari, a regular on-air political analyst for Fox News and editor-in-chief of The Foreign Desk, was postponed from speaking at Rutgers after a change.org online petition received more than 1,600 signatures to prevent her speech. 

The petition was started by Adeel Ahmed, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and co-president of RU Progressive, according to the article. 

“In the last few years, we have had speakers from every part of the political and social spectrum at Rutgers. In a few cases, some students protested those speakers, but did so respectfully and lawfully. Their First Amendment right to do so was protected. Our Student Affairs staff works with student leaders and student groups to ensure that if students or student groups decide to engage in protest, they do so safely,” Devlin said. 

Brendan Brightman

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