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President Trump Signs Executive Order Protecting Free Speech on College Campuses and Incentivizing Universities to Lessen Student Debt

March 21, 2019

Texas Senators Joan Huffman (R-Houston) and Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) in attendance as well as Young Conservatives of Texas State Chair Saurabh Sharma

AUSTIN – President Trump today signed an Executive Order protecting freedom of speech on college campuses and incentivizing universities to lessen student debt. The President was surrounded by student activists whose conservative views have been suppressed at universities, including Young Conservatives of Texas State Chair Saurabh Sharma and two members of the Texas Senate Republican Caucus. President Trump expressed his dismay at the verbal and physical attacks that have been perpetrated on Conservative students across the country who are being denied their First Amendment rights on publicly funded college campuses.

President Trump charged that, “Universities have shut down free thought across the country,” and “universities who want taxpayer dollars should promote free speech, not restrict it.” One student speaker described her experience with having her speech restricted and stated: “The only permit I should need to speak freely on my campus is the First Amendment!”

Senator Huffman authored Senate Bill 18 which passed the Texas Senate 31-0 and is on the way to the Texas House. SB 18 includes language that protects student organizations from any punishment or denial of benefits, in the bill the specific language states, “on the basis of a political, religious, philosophical, ideological, or academic viewpoint expressed by the organization or of any expressive activities of the organization.” SB 18 also eliminates the ability for Universities in Texas to restrict students to certain ‘free speech zones.’ Senator Huffman previously explained the spirit of the bill as, “The bill requires that Universities embrace the idea that each and every person at the university has a constitutional right to speak freely,” she added, “Just because speech is offensive does not mean that it’s not protected.”

YCT State Chair Saurabh Sharma was also at the White House. Texas Senate Republican Chairman Paul Bettencourt publicly took a strong stand for the Young Conservatives of Texas at the University of Texas when a rally for the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court turned violent. YCT members were shoved and had their property destroyed during the rally. Senator Bettencourt stepped in and spoke with the UT Administration to demand that a YCT event shortly following this incident had adequate police presence to ensure that these students could peacefully exercise their fundamental right of free speech.
Chairman Bettencourt concluded, “American Students have the right to free speech! SB 18, authored by Senator Huffman, co-authored by myself and Senators Nelson, Creighton, Campbell, Schwertner, Fallon and Buckingham, will become the National Standard to protect American Students’ Free Speech rights.”

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