- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 21, 2019

President Trump will sign an executive order Thursday requiring colleges and universities to ensure free speech on campus, in the wake of cases of conservatives being attacked for expressing their views.

A senior administration official said Mr. Trump’s order will require colleges that receive federal research grant money to certify that they “promote free inquiry.”

“The president strongly supports cultivating free speech and open inquiry in higher education,” the official said. “American institutions of higher education should promote open, intellectually engaging debate which is critical to create the next generation of leaders.”

Officials say the order will be enforced like other education grant requirements. It relies on the institutions to certify they’re in compliance; the mechanism for revoking federal aid is unclear.

The order also will direct the Education Department to publish data for a “college scorecard” on earnings, debt, student loan default rates and loan repayment rates. And the department will submit a report to Mr. Trump with policy recommendations to ensure colleges share the financial risk of student loans to make them “more accountable,” the official said.

Among those expected to attend the event in the East Room of the White House is Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America.

Mr. Trump previewed his action earlier this month at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, when he called up onstage Hayden Williams, a conservative activist who was assaulted while on a recent recruiting trip to the University of California, Berkeley.

“If they want our dollars and we give it to them by the billions, they [have] got to allow people like Hayden and many other great young people…to speak,” the president said.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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