Clay Calvert Comments on Executive Order to Protect College Students’ Right to Free Speech
Clay Calvert, director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, was quoted in “Trump Praises First Amendment a Day After Attacking ‘Phony’ Press” published in The Washington Post on March 21.
The article features President Trump’s executive order supporting college students’ right to freedom of speech. The action came one day after he criticized the media for being fake and corrupt.
“It is encouraging that the president is supporting free speech on public universities, but it’s also highly ironic that he simultaneously criticizes the media who do their work under the blanket protection of that very same amendment,” said Calvert.
Calvert was also quoted in “Donald Trump Campus Free Speech Order ‘Highly Symbolic’ and ‘Ironic,’ Advocates Say” written by Ramsey Touchberry, B.S. Journalism 2018, and published in Newsweek on March 21.
According to Calvert, the executive action was a “highly symbolic gesture” likely playing to Trump’s base, given his past rhetoric and the difficulty in enforcing such a law.
“The government can condition funding on certain mandates,” he said. “The typical one you would think of is highway funding if states didn’t increase the drinking age from 18 to 21. How that’s going to be actually enforced is going to be difficult to do.”
The executive order leaves it up to government agencies to create and implement their own guidelines. College students are already protected under the First Amendment and have the right to sue if they feel their rights have been violated.
“The biggest difference now is that institutions risk losing large sums of federal money for violating a student’s free speech rights,” said Calvert. “But making those determinations and enforcing the executive order ‘will be very difficult to do,’ due to the lack of across-the-board standards.”