99°F
weather icon Clear

Trump plans campus free-speech event at White House

Updated March 20, 2019 - 9:55 pm

WASHINGTON — The White House has invited conservative activists to attend an event on higher education Thursday. The guest list sent a strong signal that President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order on campus free speech, as he promised at a conservative confab this month.

“I’m honored to have been invited to the @WhiteHouse this Thursday to hear President @realDonaldTrump speak about free speech on college campuses!” University of California’s Berkeley College Republicans President Matthias Ronnau tweeted.

When he spoke to the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 2, Trump announced, “I will be very soon signing an executive order requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research dollars.”

Trump invited Hayden Williams, a conservative activist who was punched while representing the Leadership Institute at Berkeley last month, to join him on stage. Williams warned, “If these socialist progressives had their way, they would put our Constitution through the paper shredder in a heartbeat.”

Williams also told Trump, “If you keep defending us, we’ll keep defending you.”

Trump suggested that Williams “sue the college, the university and maybe sue the state.”

Trump: Sue for your rights

At CPAC, the president also praised Williams’ attorney, Harmeet Dhillon of San Francisco, although not by name, and predicted that someday Williams “is going to be a very wealthy young man.”

Dhillon told the Review-Journal that she had no comment on Trump’s suggestion that Williams sue. Instead, she said she wants to see the activist charged with attacking Williams, Zachary Greenberg, prosecuted.

Dhillon said she has no idea what will be included in Trump’s executive order on campus free speech, but “I’d love to see what the lawsuit looks like from a critic of the president whose position is that a university should get taxpayer dollars when they reject free speech principles.”

“It is entirely appropriate for the government to attach strings for those monies,” Dhillon said.

“Given our words and deeds over the last two years, at Berkeley at least we’re not concerned,” UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor for Communications Dan Mogulof said of Trump’s proposed executive order. “We’ve spent an extraordinary amount of money” and hosted “a very large number of prominent conservative speakers,” he added.

Other groups are withholding judgment until the order’s language is released.

The bipartisan group FIRE, which fights for free speech rights on campus, issued a statement after Trump’s CPAC speech that said, “While we are glad that this important national issue has the president’s attention, we do not currently have any information on the details of the executive order. We are looking forward to learning more about this initiative in coming days.”

Protecting all speech

Ronnau also isn’t sure what will be in the order but said, “The point of this isn’t just to protect conservative speech.” He wants an order that includes the free-speech rights of liberals as well.

Ronnau faulted Berkeley for not providing sufficient security for conservatives on campus and complained that the university’s decision to charge high “security fees” for conservative speakers constituted viewpoint discrimination. The university reached a settlement with Berkeley College Republicans last year.

Mogulof said the criticism of insufficient security is unfair. “A lone idiot walks onto a 1,200-acre campus and punches somebody,” and he is jailed and charged with a felony. “I find no room for criticism in how the university responded,” he said.

Dhillon, who represented Berkeley College Republicans in the lawsuit, however, sees an atmosphere in which far-left activists feel free to harass and intimate conservatives on campus. She does not believe police would have arrested and charged Greenberg — who pleaded not guilty to the three felony charges he faced — if someone had not videotaped the confrontation.

“The advice that I give young conservatives on campus, if you’re going to use your free speech abilities, work in groups and videotape everything,” Dhillon said.

Contact Debra Saunders at DSaunders@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
THE LATEST
Putin orders Russia military response to US missile test

President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military on Friday to work out a quid pro quo response after the test of a new U.S. missile banned under a now-defunct arms treaty.

China deepens trade war with hike on $75B of US products

China on Friday announced tariff hikes on $75 billion of U.S. products in retaliation for President Donald Trump’s planned increase, deepening a trade war.

Justice Dept. says it sent anti-Semitic post to immigration judges

Assistant Press Secretary Kathryn Mattingly said the daily morning news briefings are compiled by a contractor and the blog post should not have been included.