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Scholars: Withholding federal funds will help fight viewpoint discrimination on campus

All the campus craziness seems endless. So much so that “almost every week brings a new campus controversy.”

That’s what two scholars argue in a commentary piece recently published in The Wall Street Journal. The American Enterprise Institute’s Frederick Hess and Grant Addison say “few have suggested substantive proposals for redress” regarding the lack of free speech on college campuses but the two write it doesn’t have to stay that way.

With that, the scholars from the conservative think tank have proposed their own solution to curb viewpoint bias on campus.

From the article:

Here’s a straightforward idea that would be easy to put into practice: Require schools to assure free speech and inquiry as a condition of accepting federal research funding. In addition to subsidizing tuition and providing student loans, Washington disburses billions of dollars to colleges and universities for research—nearly $38 billion in fiscal 2015 alone.

The scholars write these federal grants are “some of the most prized funds in academia” and that “it would be easy for Washington to require schools to protect free speech before the cash can be disbursed”:

Leveraging federal money is one way to discourage campus speech restrictions. Federal research funds should come with contractual provisions that obligate the recipient schools to guarantee open discourse. Colleges should be required to offer assurances that their policies do not restrict constitutionally protected speech or expression and that they will commit to safeguarding open inquiry to the best of their ability. Violating such assurances would be grounds for loss of funds and render the school ineligible for future research dollars.

Further, colleges that receive research grants should be required to establish formal processes for investigating and appealing allegations of speech suppression or intellectual intimidation. Such machinery already exists to address other forms of research misconduct.

Read the full article.

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