President Trump announced plans at last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to sign an executive order protecting right-wing activism and organizing at public universities and colleges. Of course, it’s not Trump’s aim to protect free expression on college campuses, but to further empower far-right organizations on college campuses.
Trump’s executive order, cheered by anti-choice groups, will have far-reaching consequences at public colleges, including for reproductive rights advocacy.
With his latest executive order, the president is handing a victory to reactionary groups that operate on college campuses, groups that have spent the last several years framing protest against them as infringements on their right to free speech. There have long been culture wars waged on U.S. campuses, and the latest wave has brought fascist speakers and organizations—chiefly Milo Yiannopoulos and Richard Spencer.
The executive order, which was signed at a White House ceremony on March 21, states that “[the Trump] Administration seeks to promote free and open debate on college and university campuses.” The order states that “the heads of covered agencies shall … ensure institutions that receive Federal research or education grants promote free inquiry, including through compliance with all applicable Federal laws, regulations, and policies.” In essence, the order will allow the president to withhold federal funding from public higher education institutions that do not meet the administration’s criteria for “promoting free inquiry.”
Though the order is light on details, it would be naive to assume this means there won’t be negative consequences for marginalized members of university communities.
The concern over visiting fascist speakers remains, even though Spencer’s campus tour has long since ended. These fears are relevant to any progressive organizing on…