NAICU Washington Update

Free Inquiry Regulations Under Review

August 26, 2021

Trump-era regulations governing freedom of speech and religion on college campuses are currently undergoing a review, the Department of Education announced this week.

Notably, the Department’s announcement specifies that the agency is focusing on a specific portion of the regulations that is applicable only to public universities and their treatment of student organizations that are religious in nature. It is not clear whether the Department intends to revise or rescind the portions of the regulations that affect private institutions, including provisions addressing freedom of speech on campus and regulations governing faith-based institutions. However, there will be an opportunity for public comment when proposed regulations are issued.

The free inquiry regulations were designed to implement President Donald Trump’s Executive Order (EO) addressing freedom of speech on college campuses, as well as to facilitate faith-based institutions’ eligibility to participate in various grant programs under the Higher Education Act (HEA). Despite the significant concerns that were raised by NAICU and others in the higher education community, the regulations went into effect in 2020.

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