On March 21, President Donald Trump signed an executive order mandating free speech for all federally funded colleges and universities. Deans at UC Berkley seem to have other plans.
According to Campus Reform, Erwin Chermerinsky, Dean of Berkeley Law, and Howard Gillman, Chancellor of the University of California, Irvine, voiced in an op-ed that the executive order is “unconstitutional” and would not protect free speech on campus.
“There is no crisis concerning free speech on campuses in the United States,” Chermerinsky and Gillman stated. “Every day on virtually every campus, speeches are given without incident, including some by very controversial speakers. Walk across either of our campuses on just about any day of the week, and the cacophony of diverse speakers is readily apparent.”
Chermerinsky and Gillman are not the only ones at California’s universities who oppose the guarding of free speech.
The University of California System President Janet Napolitano called the mandate “unnecessary,” but not “unconstitutional.”
In a statement on March 21, Napolitano wrote, “The executive order that President Trump signed today is unnecessary. Like many higher education institutions across the country, the University of California is ground zero for robust exchanges of ideas and differing viewpoints.”
73 percent of Americans support this executive order, however. In the wake of Hayden Williams, the TPUSA activist that was punched in the face, or the myriad of conservative speakers UC Berkeley would not host, the institution still holds the belief that this executive order is not needed.
“We do not need the federal government to mandate what already exists: our longstanding, unequivocal support for freedom of expression. That tradition is alive and thriving on all of our campuses. This executive order will only muddle policies surrounding free speech, while doing nothing to further the aim of the First Amendment,” Napolitano said.
Charlie Kirk, Turning Point USA’s Founder and President has been fighting institutional bias from the Left for the past 6 years. In a statement to Business Insider, Kirk said, “I know firsthand the hostility, vitriol, and violence constantly directed toward conservative students for peacefully advocating for their beliefs, just like Hayden Williams was doing for us at UC Berkeley when he was attacked.”
Kirk, in a December interview with Business Insider, said that Turning Point USA will “continue to fight for free speech and the right for professors to say whatever they wish” but he added that students, parents, and alumni “deserve to know the specific incidents and names of professors that advance a radical agenda in lecture halls.”
“The only way to affect real change and reform is by threatening to withhold funding if they fail to protect the First Amendment rights of their students, faculty, staff, and speakers,” Kirk said.