As the radical student left has stepped up efforts in recent years to shutdown free speech on campuses, the libertarian youth activist organization Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) has fought back by promoting pro-free speech activism.
This week, it seems Team Trump has taken an interest in their efforts.
“Yesterday afternoon, Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) President Cliff Maloney Jr. met with senior leaders of the Trump transition team to discuss YAL’s national Fight for Free Speech campaign and the protection of the First Amendment under the Trump administration,” read a YAL press release on Thursday.
Maloney said, “I am thrilled that President-elect Trump’s transition team invited Young Americans for Liberty to discuss our national Fight for Free Speech campaign… We hope to work with the Trump transition team to abolish every free speech zone and guarantee students their First Amendment rights on all public, tax-payer funded, university campuses.”
Maloney told Rare in an email that he stressed to Trump’s team how important this issue was to Millennials and highlighted YAL’s efforts.
“I let the Trump transition team know how important YAL’s national Fight for Free Speech campaign is to young people,” Maloney said. “Of the 804 YAL chapters throughout the nation, 125 of those universities have unconstitutional speech codes restricting them from assembling and expressing their First Amendment Rights.”
Maloney told Trump officials, that YAL had “hosted over 511 free speech events across 354 campuses nation-wide” and that they will step up those efforts in 2017.
That the incoming Trump administration might be interested in free speech issues is important on two fronts.
First, the extreme left, or “social justice warriors” are an authoritarian plague on our campuses, who not only undermine basic American principles, but also the very purpose of university life–intellectual exploration in the pursuit of higher education.
To explore and grow, obviously students need to hear diverse views.
Second, many have been concerned with Trump’s commitment to free speech in general. If the incoming administration values the First Amendment in this area, hopefully that belief is a guiding principle.
At TIME in October, Maloney outlined some of the challenges to free speech that have been experienced in recent months and years:
University campuses are now home to a plethora of speech restrictions. From sidewalk-sized “free-speech zones” to the criminalization of microaggressions, America’s college campuses look and feel a lot more like an authoritarian dictatorship than they do the academic hubs of the modern free world. When rolling an inflated free-speech ball around campus, students at the University of Delaware were halted by campus police for their activities. A Young Americans for Liberty leader at Fairmont State University in West Virginia was confronted by security when he was attempting to speak with other students about the ideas he believes in. A man at Clemson University was barred from praying on campus because he was outside of the free-speech zone. And a student at Blinn College in Texas abolished her campus’ free-speech zone in a lawsuit after administrators demanded she seek special permission to advocate for self-defense.
“How have we let this happen in America, the land of the free?” asked Maloney.
“It’s because of what our universities have taught a generation of Americans: If you don’t agree with someone, are uncomfortable with an idea, or don’t find a joke funny, then their speech must be suppressed. Especially if they don’t politically agree with you.”
Maloney stressed that his organization’s role was to work with the Trump administration where it could, but also challenging it when necessary.
“Part of my job as an American citizen and as the President of YAL is to advocate for a better tomorrow, and that means holding our elected officials – including Trump – accountable,” Maloney said Thursday. “As the President-Elect assumes the Executive Office of the free world in the coming weeks, we will watch to ensure the new Administration respects and embraces the First Amendment.”
Maloney discussed this issue in a video interview with Reason in October.
Disclosure: I am a former employee and frequent speaker for Young Americans for Liberty.