President makes new promise, aimed at protecting free speech on college campuses

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Two years ago, the voice of Fresno State master’s student Bernadette Tasy heard on video, showing assistant professor Greg Thatcher and students, wiping out university-approved pro-life chalk messages.

“As a Students for Life leader, who has had her rights, free speech rights, taken away right here on a college campus, it’s important to us that the university takes this seriously,” Tasy said. “And the presidency takes this seriously, and it seems he’s doing just that.”

The president speaking on a new plan, Saturday. 

“I will be very soon signing an executive order requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research dollars,” President Donald Trump shared onstage, at the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference. 

“That’s something we haven’t even seen before,” Tasy said. “And so for the president of the United States to declare that.” 

Fresno State releasing a statement to us Monday night, from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. It reads in part, quote, “An executive order is unnecessary as public research universities are already bound by the First Amendment, which they deeply respect and honor.”

Others, wonder how the order would be implemented.

“Are they going to look and see if there’s existing policies across schools, or are they going to wait for incidents to happen, and then use it as some sort of punitive measure,” Fresno State Political Science Associate Professor Lisa Bryant telling us over the phone. 

Bryant saying universities already have strong guidelines for regulating speech.

“The university can’t decide that they don’t like what somebody’s saying based on the content, it has to be, ‘Does it put the students at danger,'” Bryant said.

Tasy points out, the university fully backed her group. She also feels this would be a free-speech win, not just for conservative student groups, but all groups and all faculty.

Others wonder if this is more of a move for the president’s conservative base.

Reporting at Fresno State tonight, Megan Rupe.

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