President Donald Trump announced at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) this year his intention to sign an executive order that would limit research funding to colleges and universities that didn’t support free speech on their campuses.
Which is another statement that the president has made that is designed to pander to his base without addressing any specific problems and it also shows that he has little understanding of what the issue actually is, if there is one.
During the speech, Trump invited Hayden Williams on stage as an example of someone he felt had his right to free speech stifled by University of California, Berkeley.
The instance in question occurred when Williams, a conservative activist recruiting for Turning Point USA, was handing out literature on the UC Berkeley campus on Feb. 19 and was allegedly assaulted by Zachary Greenberg, a student at UC Berkeley, for his conservative views.
The obvious point to be made is that a university isn’t responsible, nor does it automatically condone the actions of one of its students, so placing blame on the school itself is unjustified.
The only person to blame the actions of Greenberg on, is Greenberg himself.
In addition to that, the school took steps to catch the alleged assailant including passing along the information of the assault to the campus police, which in turn passed it along to the Berkeley Police Department.
Greenberg was arrested and charged on March 1.
So in the situation that Trump referenced to justify his executive order was actually handled by the university the right way, and even then, it wasn’t a free speech issue.
Nobody representing the university had ever tried to stop Williams from recruiting for conservatives.
There is a belief among conservatives that colleges are completely liberal and that they work to silence conservative speech on their campus, but the examples they provide do little to hold up to scrutiny.
Milo Yiannopoulos is a textbook provocateur who often uses his status as a member of the LGBT community and his marriage to a black man as a shield to share various bigoted ideas without dealing with the ramifications of such comments.
That brand of provocation has led to many protests to him speaking on campuses, a couple of which led to riots, one of which being the famous riot at UC Berkeley in 2017 that had led to over $100,000 in damages.
These events, as well as some uncouth commentary regarding pediphilia have led to Yiannopoulos not being invited onto campuses as much as before.
Ben Shapiro, another conservative speaker who has trouble speaking on college campuses, has a different experience.
While Shapiro isn’t considered a provocateur, he is an intelligent media commentator who speaks on many college campuses, but he likes to focus his attention on trying to expose unrefined liberal thoughts and easily debate them.
Shapiro has also had some self perceived difficulties speaking on a couple of campuses but upon closer examination, it appears that Shapiro is embellishing his difficulties.
Shapiro was recently scheduled to speak at Grand Canyon University, a private institution, when they denied his invitation based on lack of unity on views, but after Shapiro and the organization that sponsors his speeches, Young America’s Foundation, brought the issue to a national level, GCU relented and Shapiro is again invited to speak there, but without YAF’s involvement.
Shapiro declined the second invitation based on the fact that he’s worked with YAF for a long time.
So Shapiro not speaking at GCU isn’t the universities’ decision, it’s Shapiro’s.
Another high profile instance that Shapiro has faced was his speech at Loyola Marymount University, in which his sponsoring group, again YAF, made a big deal out of a questionnaire, that all the speakers at Loyola are required to answer.
So looking at these highly referenced scenarios that conservatives use to claim prevents their free speech on campus, it turns out that the universities are well within their rights to deny the speakers, based on high cost security concerns, provocation that borders on hate speech, or like Shapiro’s situation with LMU, the existence of a standard form.
In fact, LMU has had high profile conservatives speak on their campus before, including Karl Rove, Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter.
Not exactly the attack on free speech that Trump speaks of.
For LBCC, the process to get a speaker on campus has a few steps, but in no way prevents speakers based on political ideology.
First, they would have to submit an event request through our Nordicsync system.
Then they would have get through a few phases of approval, starting with their club advisor, then the club senate president, and the Director of Student Life and Student Conduct,
They would have to contact facilities, to make sure that there is a venue available and make arrangements for it to be set up.
That’s basically it, unless the speaker is expecting to be paid, in which they would have to get further approval from the Dean of Students, Vice President of Student Services and Director of Business Support Services, as well as provide a copy of their IRS form W9.
In short, the only thing that would typically hold back someone from bring a speaker on campus would be a lack of patience or an unwillingness to take the required steps.
For the students of LBCC, it’s important to not let Trump deceive them into thinking that their campus strives to silence speakers of a particular political ideology.
Whether they are conservative or liberal, they have the ability to bring a speaker on campus that they feel would not only help strengthen their knowledge, but to also introduce ideas to the college at large that may enhance the discourse on this campus.
So, if you as a student want to hear the ideas of your favorite radio host, journalist, or even a politician on campus at LBCC, all you have to do is take the first step, and make it happen.