President Donald Trump signed an executive order March 21 mandating free-speech rights to students on college campuses. Along with the ceremony, he invited at least 100 conservative students, some of whom told personal stories of how they were either censored or targeted for their beliefs. The order concerns universities but would most likely apply to community colleges as well.
This was a step in the right direction for conservatives, based on the current political climate in America. Since Trump was elected president Nov. 8, 2016, liberals have spurred nothing but hatred toward him. It’s getting worse today, now that Democratic Socialist candidates have entered the 2020 presidential race. It’s not just conservative students but other conservatives like Ann Coulter, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. who have also been prevented from speaking on campuses and it’s a disgrace to our nation.
Trump stressed during the signing ceremony that the executive order was necessary to promote free speech in higher education. He also directed 12 agencies responsible for federal grants to make sure colleges comply and also encouraged more debates. I hope this will be an incentive for change.
What motivated Trump to take action now was an incident on the University of California, Berkeley campus. Hayden Williams was recruiting Feb. 19 at that campus for TurningPointUSA, a conservative group, when he was attacked by two men, one of whom punched him. Like everything else these days, the whole fiasco was captured on student cellphones. Neither of the two men were connected to UC-Berkeley.
It should not have been necessary for Trump to issue this executive order. The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees every person in the United States has the right to free speech, freedom of religion and freedom of the press. Students should have every right to express a variety of viewpoints in their classes and on their campuses, whether they are political or not. UC-Berkeley was once the bastion of free speech, but that’s a thing of the past.
Trump said at the State of the Union address that, “We will never be a socialist nation.” We can only hope that he’s right, but, it’s important for college-age students to understand why our Constitution is so important to our country. It has been for almost 235 years.
In Texas, high school student journalists have also been attacked for their conservative beliefs. In February 2018, Prosper High School journalism students were told what they could and could not print after a few controversial articles were censored by the principal, John Burdett. That was a violation of free speech and against what journalism students are supposed to be learning: fair and balanced reporting and the ability to develop critical thinking skills.
We should expect college presidents and chancellors, as well as government and history professors, to take a stand and encourage free speech on their campuses. I’d like to see lectures and/or debates from professors and other speakers on socialism vs. capitalism, for example, so students can understand what the differences are in time for the 2020 election. Millennials tend to not care about politics. Once they turn 18, however, if they are eligible to vote, they need to know who they’re voting for and why that candidate is the best choice based on the constitution that governs our country.
Attacks on conservatives and liberals seem to be growing and it needs to stop, especially on college campuses. Hatred for this president has consumed our country for three years and now socialism has entered the picture for the upcoming presidential race. Yet, based on our lifestyle these days, fake news, opinion journalism and social media consume the average American’s day.
I believe the American people as a whole are totally disgusted with our government: The conflicts within our dysfunctional Congress, unresolved immigration problems and attacks on our president. What remains a mystery is how all these perplexing problems are going to find solutions.