Trump Signs Executive Order to Protect Free Speech on College Campuses

On Thursday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to protect free speech on college campuses.

"In America, the very heart of the university’s mission is preparing students for life as citizens in a free society, but even as universities have received billions and billions of dollars from taxpayers, many have become increasingly hostile to free speech and to the First Amendment," the president said.

He mentioned the case of Hayden Williams, a field representative for the Leadership Institute who got punched in the face in Berkeley, Calif.

"You see people being punched hard in the face, but he didn’t go down," Trump said of Williams. "I said you have a better chin than Muhammad Ali."

Trump took Williams on stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) earlier this month.

Turning to the broader problem, Trump said, "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 young Americans like those here today."

The president had many college students who had been silenced by the speech restrictions at their colleges and universities in attendance at the signing.

"The administration is right to recognize the threats to freedom of speech on public university campuses and the need to do something about preserving the marketplace of ideas," Tyson Langhofer, director at Alliance Defending Freedom's (ADF) Center for Academic Freedom, said in a statement.

"In the course of winning more than 400 legal victories since 2006, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom has continued to encounter massive free speech and other First Amendment violations, unconstitutional policies, and many repeat offenders," Langhofer continued. He praised the administration for understanding the problem and the Department of Justice for filing briefs to support free speech.

ADF's Center for Academic Freedom represented three of the young students on stage with Trump — Ellie Wittman, Bernadette Tasy, and Isaac Edikauskas.

Trump tweeted a livestream of the signing.

Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.