The Atlantic

Free Speech on Campus Is Doing Just Fine, Thank You

Norms about the First Amendment are evolving—but not in the way President Trump thinks.
Source: Alicia Tatone

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump signed an executive order requiring colleges and universities that receive federal funds to do what they’re already required by law to do: extend free-speech protections to men and women on campus.

The executive order was a transparent exercise in politics. Its intent was to validate the collective antipathy that many Trump boosters feel toward institutions of higher learning. Its major impact, though, has been to shed light on how serious the purported censorship crisis on campus really is—or, rather, is not.

I have served for more than two decades as a university president, the past 17 years leading Columbia University. I am also a lifelong First Amendment scholar and have written books and essays to try to understand and explain why our laws and norms have evolved as they have. In both these capacities, I can attest that attitudes about the First Amendment are evolving—but not in the

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