Fmr. Obama admin. official turned UC pres. denounces Trump's 'unnecessary' free speech exec. order

The order comes after conservative Hayden Williams got punched on UC Berkeley's campus.

UC students had differing opinions on the order.

Janet Napolitano, a former Obama admin official and University of California's system president, criticized Trump's free speech executive order.

University of California President Janet Napolitano attacked President Donald Trump’s executive order on Thursday, insisting that the UC system maintained “longstanding, unequivocal support for freedom of expression” and that “that tradition is alive and thriving on all of our campuses.” 

Napolitano, a former Obama administration Homeland Security Secretary, pointed in the news release toward the UC Free Speech Center and expenditure of UC resources on providing campus security as evidence for the UC system’s support of free speech, referring to the Thursday’s order, which threatened schools that did not uphold free speech with a loss of research funding, as “superfluous.” 

She went on to say that “this executive order will only muddle policies surrounding free speech, while doing nothing to further the aim of the First Amendment.”

But the UC system has occupied the limelight in discussions surrounding free speech on campus since conservative author Milo Yiannopoulos’s attempted speech at UC-Berkeley in February 2017. While many viewed UC-Berkeley as the free speech movement’s “home” in the 1960s, protesters of Yiannopoulos’ speech caused $100,000 in damage to the campus, forcing its cancellation.

[RELATED: Hayden Williams: I was assaulted at Berkeley because I’m conservative (OPINION)]

The most recent manifestation of intolerance of conservatives at Berkeley came in February, when Hayden Williams, an employee of the Leadership Institute, Campus Reform’s parent organization, got punched in the face while helping conservative student groups recruit new members.

“Increasingly, leftists believe they are justified to respond to ideas disagreeable to them with open hostility and even force,” Williams wrote in an op-ed. “Students are commonly told now that words are literally violent and can be responded to with physical force. I don’t mean verbal threats of violence or efforts to intimidate, I mean words that express ideas that the listener finds offensive or disagrees with.” 

Campus Reform spoke with a couple of UC students regarding Trump’s executive order.

”This is a tremendously important decision and a victory for conservative students on campus who feel afraid to speak their minds on a daily basis,” UC-Irvine student Panagiotis Frousiakis, who serves as executive director of the California College Republicans, told Campus Reform. “At long last, the government is standing up for freedom of speech at the university, a necessary step for a free and constitutional society.”

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UCLA student Liberty Fuchs was less optimistic.

“The executive order has no specifics in it,” Fuchs told Campus Reform. “It just looks like virtue signaling to me. No real plan was made, just posturing. As Miss Napolitano pointed out, there are already laws in place. I can’t speak for all UCs, but UCLA does seem to be following such laws.” 

“That being said, it remains all too common among other schools to ban certain speakers or to allow hecklers and disruptors to go unimpeded,” the student continued. “I appreciate a lot of what UCLA does to protect its students’ rights. They read a specific speech about the importance of free speech and the speakers right to engage with a willing audience before any controversial presentations. If only all colleges were as supportive.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @arik_schneider