Alpha News had the honor of attending President Trump’s remarks on higher education and subsequent executive order signing on Mar 21. Students from colleges where some of the most egregious free speech attacks have taken place were in attendance.
The Executive Order affects the $35 billion in research funding for institutions of higher education if they fail to protect the first amendment rights of any of their students. President Trump said he is “delivering a clear message to the professors and power structures trying to suppress dissent and keep young Americans… from challenging rigid, far-left ideology.”
One of the most recent instances of free speech suppression took place at Georgia Southern University where students with the group Turning Point USA were scolded for not tabling in the “free speech zone” on campus. The University of Minnesota Twin Cities is also no stranger to violating students first amendment rights when in 2018, they censored guest speaker Ben Shapiro and moved him to a smaller and less trafficked area on campus.
During his speech, President Trump also announced his plans to conduct detailed research that would increase transparency within institutions of higher education to help combat the student debt problem. This would offer students “critical information about what career outcomes they can expect from their programs, majors, or fields of study,” he says, adding that often times students “borrow more money than they can ever expect to pay off or pay back”
President Trump concluded his remarks by discussing how free speech allows for an exchange of ideas that ultimately “brings people together.” He congratulated all of the students in attendance, telling them, “Don’t let anyone stop you from doing what you know is right, from asking questions, from challenging the powerful, or from speaking your mind.”
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Megan Olson is a 2020 graduate of the University of Minnesota with degrees in political science and history. She works in public affairs in addition to serving on the Legislative Advisory Council for School District 196. She is also on the school board for FIT academy, a charter school in Apple Valley.