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IU responds to Trump administration’s free speech executive order



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President Trump speaks March 21 before signing an executive order to require colleges and universities to support free speech on campus or risk loss of federal research funds during an event in the East Room of the White House. Tribune News Service Buy Photos

IU issued a response Thursday to President Trump’s executive order promoting free speech on college campuses.

The executive order directs 12 federal agencies to work with the director of the Office of Management and Budget to ensure that institutions receiving federal money comply with federal laws, regulations and policies regarding free speech, including the First Amendment.

Public campuses are already required to maintain First Amendment protections, while private universities set their own standards.It is unclear how the order will be implemented and what changes it will make.

“Free inquiry is an essential feature of our Nation's democracy, and it promotes learning, scientific discovery, and economic prosperity,” according to the document. “We must encourage institutions to appropriately account for this bedrock principle in their administration of student life and to avoid creating environments that stifle competing perspectives, thereby potentially impeding beneficial research and undermining learning.”

The document also addressed the financial burden of higher education.

“Institutions of higher education (institutions) should be accountable both for student outcomes and for student life on campus,” according to the document.

The executive order directed the Secretary of Education to create by Jan. 1, 2020, a confidential website and mobile application informing federal student loan borrowers of how much they owe, how much they will pay each month, the length of repayment options and steps to enroll.

It also directs the Education Department to expand and annually update the College Scorecard, which provides information on students who received financial aid at all programs.

Trump brought up the idea for the executive order earlier this month at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland.

In a response released the same day Trump signed the document, IU stated its shared commitment to protecting free speech.

“The university has long cultivated an environment where a broad spectrum of ideas and matters of importance to our community and the world can be expressed and discussed, with differing viewpoints respected,” the statement said. “Free expression, assembly, tolerance for the exchange of ideas and community safety are essential to our education and research mission.”

Information on IU’s free speech policies can be found at freespeech.iu.edu.

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