There is very little doubt that when Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos talks about how timely and serious the issue of free speech is, she knows what she’s talking about. DeVos has worked in an administration that some people have said has largely ignored free speech in some instances. That includes when President Trump called people who didn’t applaud his State of the Union, traitors to the country. Democrats howled that he was basically stomping on their ability to have that free speech. During that particular row, DeVos was largely silent. Of course, it wouldn’t have made a ton of sense for the secretary to weigh in on that sort of thing. This particular discussion had nothing to do with schools or college campuses.
At last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)DeVos did speak up and told people exactly what she thought of the accusations that there were people who were drowning out fee speech on college campuses. That has been a topic that has been hot for the last couple of months and it appears this is the first time DeVos has specifically waded into the issue. While she was on stage, she made that comment that “seen more and more examples on college campuses in recent years of shutting down free and open expression and debate around ideas.”
There was a time when that debate and the exchange of ideas was something that was more often thought about conservatives doing that to liberals. These days, it appears that liberals are doing that to conservative students on campus. There have been reports that conservatives have felt as though they were being persecuted by liberal students on liberal campuses. Some of those reports have since been found to be a bit over the top. Other reports appear to be real. The election of Donald Trump has led to some liberal students taking out their anger on conservative classmates.
Talking to the CPAC crowd, DeVos has said that she went to school in order to learn and exchange ideas. She added that higher education should always be a place where people are working to exchange free ideas, rather than attempting to stomp out those free ideas. It appears as though DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been teaming up in order to tackle free speech on college campuses. Under Session, the AG’s office has been investigating the claims that there have been people trying to stop free speech.
At CPAC, DeVos made it clear that she wanted to make sure that colleges are always going to be a place where people can speak freely as long as she is the secretary of education. The problem, some of her enemies might claim, is that there is going to be a difference of opinion as to how the free speech is going to be protected under the Trump administration. There are some who wonder if she might be going too far the other way. DeVos struck an optimistic tone when she was speaking, saying “good ideas are going to win.”
For updates, follow Betsy DeVos on Facebook.