STATEMENT BY AASCU PRESIDENT MILDRED GARCÍA, ED.D., ON WHITE HOUSE EXECUTIVE ORDER ON FREE SPEECH

March 21, 2019

“As institutions of higher learning, the nation's state colleges and universities have a fundamental commitment to free expression and the unfettered pursuit of the truth. In addition, as state entities, public institutions are fully subject to the strictures of the First Amendment and the protection of free expression within the guidelines set forth by the Supreme Court. The president's Executive Order does not—and cannot—add to or subtract from our pre-existing obligations under the Constitution or the commitment of our institutions to the advancement of knowledge through the promotion of free speech and academic freedom. 

Beyond addressing free speech, the president's Executive Order also includes a series of proposals related to federal financial aid programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA). While we welcome a deliberative policy conversation on the issues referenced in the Executive Order, the proper vehicle for making federal policy on these topics is a legislative reauthorization of HEA and the enactment of a new statute, not a unilateral order from the White House. We look forward to working in a bipartisan fashion with Congress and the administration to improve on current law through the reauthorization process that is already underway in both chambers.” 

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The  American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of more than 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development. These are institutions Delivering America’s Promise of Opportunities for All.