Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday that safe spaces and free speech zones on America’s college campuses are “antithetical to the process of learning” and that he is proud of young people for challenging various speech codes on their campuses.
Pence made these comments during an event hosted by Christian conservative nonprofit the Alliance Defending Freedom and made clear that campus free speech is an issue that President Donald Trump takes seriously. Earlier in 2019, Trump signed an executive order tying federal research dollars to free speech on campus, as Campus Reformreported at the time.
WATCH (relevant portion begins around the 14:10 mark):
“We’ve sent a very strong message to campuses, universities, and colleges around the country that the freedom of speech is enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution, and we expect our institutions of learning to respect that and respect diverse views on our campuses, and create an environment that is conducive to learning,” Pence said.
The Vice President continued by expressing that he is “encouraged” by young students on college campuses who are standing up to restrictive speech codes.
“And this is — I must tell you: I feel somewhat encouraged not just because of the strong stand the President has taken, but because of the courageous stand that we’ve seen young people taking on campuses around the country, challenging these — what do they call them? — ‘safe zones’ that emerged; you know, challenging speech codes that have emerged on campus,” Pence said. “All of those things are antithetical to the process of learning.”
He noted that more and more students are starting to challenge speech codes, and that it’s no longer just conservatives battling them anymore.
“The encouraging thing…is I see it’s not just conservatives that are speaking out against this now,” Pence said. “It’s actually very encouraging that many liberals are recognizing the political correctness, the reality of speech codes and censorship on our campuses.”
Pence said that it is critical that free speech and discourse are kept safe on college campuses, and told the audience what he does whenever he sees protests.
“You know, I’m reminded, my kids — my kids often quote me. Whenever I was governor or Vice President, or we see — I see somebody waving an unflattering sign or — you know, some people shouting something out — I always look at my kids and I say, ‘That’s what freedom looks like. That’s what freedom sounds like.’ Right? And the ability to disagree,” Pence said, “the ability to be critical of people that are in public life — that’s at the very center of what the people who founded this country had in mind and has been preserved through the generations. And we have to make sure it’s preserved on the campuses of America.”