March 21 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday to allow federal funding to be withheld from colleges and universities that do not protect free speech on campus.
Schools have struggled with how to protect the rights of free speech on campus when the content includes hate speech and demonstrations against those views. U.S. colleges and universities are becoming "increasingly hostile to free speech and to the First Amendment," Trump said during the signing ceremony.
"Under the guise of speech codes and safe spaces and trigger warnings, these universities have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity and shut down the voices of great young Americans like those here today," Trump said, referring to current and recent college students in attendance.
Some recent campus protests have turned violent, forcing colleges to spend thousands on security, offer alternative venues or decline some guests, mostly conservatives, from speaking on campus at all.
Long a talking point for Trump, his executive order appeared to be spurred by an incident at the University of California, Berkeley on Feb. 19 in which student conservative activist Hayden Williams was punched in the face while recruiting on campus for the conservative organization Turning Point USA.
Campus police arrested Zachary Greenberg, who was not a student, for assault with "force likely to produce great bodily harm."
Trump brought Williams onstage during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 2 to tease the executive order.