Free to Speak: A Toolkit for Reforming the Higher Education Act

National Association of Scholars

Last week, NAS released the petition “Free to Speak: Reforming the Higher Education Act,” in which we called for the Higher Education Act to include protections for freedom of speech and association. More than 450 scholars, writers, concerned citizens, and representatives of civic and academic organizations have signed.

Read the statement and add your name here.

Join us today at 2:00 PM Eastern for a conference call in which we discuss where the Higher Education Act stands, and what you can do to help fight for free speech protections. See the toolkit below. If you use these tools to write to your member of Congress or take other action, please let us know by emailing [email protected].

About the Higher Education Act

The Higher Education Act (HEA) is the main federal legislation concerning colleges and universities, and it is currently up for reauthorization. The HEA presents a key opportunity to significantly reform higher education—but Congress, led by Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, is preparing to reauthorize HEA without any protections for campus free speech.

NAS believes the HEA needs strong protections for freedom of speech and association, and we are committed to fighting for an HEA bill that holds colleges accountable when they violate these freedoms.  Below, we provide a toolkit with some recommended steps you can take to protect free speech. 

1. Join our conference call TODAY, Friday May 3, from 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern.

We sent our “Free to Speak” statement to every member of Congress, and spent two days meeting in person with White House, Senate, and House officials. It will be an uphill fight to get free speech protections included in the Higher Education Act, but we believe the battle is worth it.

Join our call and learn where the battle stands and what you can do.

What: Toolkit release and conference call on “Free to Speak: Reforming the Higher Education Act”
When: Friday, May 3, 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern
Where: Call in to 855-369-0450 and use the conference code 52-275-553 #.
RSVP: Click here to RSVP.

2. Write to your members of Congress.

Send a letter to your Representative and your Senators, urging them to make free speech and association a priority in the Higher Education Act.

Find your members of Congress >
Download a template one-page letter >  

Note: If you live in Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Northern Mariana Islands, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, or Wyoming, then you may have a Representative or Senator on the education committees. These committees take the lead in drafting the Higher Education Act reauthorization, and it is crucial that they hear from free speech advocates.

Download a list of members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee >
Download a list of members of the House Education and Labor Committee >

3. Call your members of Congress.

Pick up the phone and tell your Representative and your two Senators that protecting free speech and association in the Higher Education Act is non-negotiable.

Find your members of Congress >
Download a phone script >  

4. Write to the White House.

Thank President Trump for his executive order on campus free inquiry, and encourage him to seek legislative text that bolsters it.

Download a template letter and contact information for the White House >

5. Write an op-ed or letter to the editor.

Spread the word that Congress is subsidizing unconstitutional behavior by public colleges and universities that violate the First Amendment. We cannot reauthorize the Higher Education Act without fixing this.

Download free speech talking points and data >

6. Post on social media.

Sign our “Free to Speak” statement, and invite others to do so too! Polling shows 73% of the country—of all political parties—supports campus free speech protections.

Sample posts: 

7. Join the National Association of Scholars.

Stand with us as we fight for intellectual freedom.

Join NAS today >

Further reading:

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