Emory is currently reviewing its free speech policies after President Donald J. Trump issued an executive order requiring universities to enforce free speech.
“We will review [the] Executive Order, as we believe that robust discussions about important issues, including discourse about freedom of expression, are essential to our nation’s future,” the March 21 University statement reads.
The order mandates that universities may only receive federal grant money if they enforce free speech on their campuses. In coordination with the Office of Management and Budget, 12 federal agencies will enforce the order and free speech-related policies on college campuses, according to the Washington Post. Trump said that the order is designed to stop “rigid far-left ideologies” from dominating college campuses and to protect First Amendment rights of students.
The University’s statement cited the Emory’s Respect for Open Expression Policy which was last revised in September 2018. The policy establishes a Committee for Open Expression which provides counsel to Emory community members on conflicts related to free speech and dissent.
The statement notes that the University is committed to achieving economic diversity with the help of federally funded grants and scholarships, like the Pell Grant, for low-income students. However, the executive order states that the new conditions placed on federal research or education grants will not include student aid programs that help pay for tuition and fees.
In January 2018, Emory received a “green light” rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for free speech policies, the Wheel previously reported. FIRE is a non-profit organization that works to defend individual rights at American colleges and universities. A green light rating means that FIRE does not see “any serious threats to students’ free speech rights” in the university’s policies. According to the FIRE website, 49 schools have acquired green light ratings.
Emory garnered national news attention in 2016 after students and University administrators reacted to messages written in chalk supporting then-presidential candidate Trump. As a result, conservative student groups and media outlets criticized the school for failing to uphold free speech principles.