The East Texan

Free Speech on College Campuses

Brianna Patt, Web Editor

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The executive order for campus free speech being signed|Photo courtesy of UPI.com

According to the Washington Post, President Trump recently signed an executive order to put an end to the suppression of free speech on college campuses.
The order links things like grants to the ways in which colleges/universities enforce free speech on campuses. According to a recent study by “Spotlight on Speech Codes 2019: The State of Free Speech on Our Nation’s Campuses”, nine out of ten American colleges restrict free speech. So, clearly there is a desire for some sort of free speech protection. But, this bill just isn’t the solution to the problem.
Even though this order may seem like a new way to enforce the policy of free speech by tying the ability to maintain federal funding to it (Vox.com), its aggravatingly vague. It doesn’t give enough detail about the situations that fall under the executive order. An article by the New York Times covering the order even stated that “it was unclear what mechanisms would be used to enforce the order.” So, what mechanisms will be used? What truly makes this executive order different than the already present free speech laws for public universities?
Despite the fact that safe spaces (in this case, one free of obscene/hate speech) I seem like a very SJW(Social Justice Warrior) idea, they are a requirement to create a better environment for all students: liberals, conservatives, and everyone in between. The whole point of college is to offer students a place to exchange ideas, no matter how controversial they are. If someone is pro life and you’re pro choice, the freedom to debate your perspectives is crucial to growing and learning.
The problem inherent in restricting speech isn’t just its impact on political parties, it’s the effect it has on our ability to communicate, change, broaden, or solidify ideas. In this case, a safe space doesn’t mean unnecessary restrictions, or refusing to let far right or far left students speak, it means allowing everyone to voice what they believe without crossing the line into hateful speech. The purpose of this executive order should be to allow expression and communication, but given its vagueness, these things are not guaranteed.

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Free Speech on College Campuses