President Donald Trump said Thursday his administration will cut research funding to colleges and universities that violate the rights of student groups and people invited to speak or hold events on campus. “If a college or university doesn’t allow you to speak, we will not give them money. It’s very simple,” Trump said to applause before signing an executive order outlining the policy at the White House. Some conservative student groups and faith-based organizations in Georgia have won lawsuit settlements in recent years after filing complaints that schools illegally prevented them from speaking or posting displays on campus. State lawmakers passed legislationsponsored by Senate Republicans last year that requires, among other things, the Georgia Board of Regents submit an annual report detailing any violations of campus freedom of expression policies. The federal government awards an estimated $35 billion annually in research funding, Trump said. About $1 billion of those dollars comes to Georgia’s public and private colleges and universities. Critics characterized Trump’s order as a wrongheaded action that could have unintended consequences on faculty conducting research who have no involvement in such actions. “Federal research grants are given to professors and they don’t decide who gets to reserve a room for a ‘controversial speaker,’”said Matthew Boedy, an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition at the University of North Georgia. “And by the way, federal money also pays for programs that aid minorities on campus, first generation students, and nontraditional students such as veterans.” Trump said the executive order is one of several upcoming initiatives to protect student rights. The president also said his administration will present a plan requiring colleges and universities to share part of the financial risk of student loan debt as “an incentive to keep their costs down.” Trump did not elaborate on the plan. Federal student loan debthas tripled since 2007 to about $1.5 trillion, Trump administration officials have said. Thursday’s order will require schools to adhere to current grant award guidelines involving freedom of expression. Implementation and enforcement guidelines are being developed, officials said in a conference call with reporters. The University System of Georgia updated its policy in 2017 to ensure each campus provides high-traffic, accessible areas for speakers. The system released a statement Thursday highlighting those guidelines and ongoing policies to improve financial literacy. Trump signed his executive order the same day Emory University began a three-day conference exploring best practices for academic freedom and free speech on college campuses. The university also released a statement saying it will review Trump’s order “as we believe that robust discussions about important issues, including discourse about freedom of expression, is essential to our nation’s future.”
The Athens Farmers Market opens bright and early Saturday morning: it’s the 12th year for the farmers market in Bishop Park. Upwards of four dozen vendors are expected to take part in this year’s market. From Kimberly Davis, Athens Farmers Market… The 12th year of the Athens Farmers Market kicks off Saturday, March 23, from 8 a.m. to noon at Bishop Park. Around 45 vendors will participate this year, said Market Manager Sarah Thurman. Exciting new vendors include Joe Nedza with Mad Dawg Doughnuts and the Bear Hug Honey Company. “We love how the market has become a staple of a great Saturday in Athens and have been working to make it a more robust experience for the customer,” Thurman said. In addition to the diverse selection of fresh produce (greens, turnips, rutabaga and more) and food and product vendors, the Athens Famers Market will also feature local arts and crafts vendors, children’s activities (including the Little Athens Pop-up Garden & Market), and collaborative painting of the music tent’s backdrop. Furthermore, new, full-time Market Chef Landon Bubb will be on hand to offer cooking demos. “Our chef will be preparing free, weekly meal plans that will be sent out in our weekly email and available at his cooking demo booth,” Thurman said. “He’ll be highlighting one of his weekly meals at the booth every Saturday so you can sample what his locally sourced, seasonal meals taste like and find the very products you need to make it at home within the market!” Al produce is either Certified Naturally Grown or USDA Certified Organic, locally grown and sold by those who grow it, according to Thurman. The Athens Farmers Market runs through Dec. 21 at the Bishop Park location. 'We hope to see the market continue to become a more welcoming and inclusive space for all all,” Thurman said. “Our market will never be wholly strong and healthy until every member of our community feels like the market is their space.
Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Cleveland Spruill holds another town hall meeting tonight. It’s set for 6 o’clock at Gaines Elementary School. From the Athens-Clarke County Police Dept… The Athens-Clarke County Police Department (ACCPD) seeks to sustain and enhance communications between residents and their police force. Over the next few months, the ACCPD will hold Community Forums throughout Athens-Clarke County to allow for community members to voice concerns, ideas, and expectations to police leadership and allow for newly appointed Police Chief Cleveland Spruill to share and refine his vision for the ACCPD. “Athens-Clarke County proves a vibrant and progressive community with dynamic and diverse neighborhoods and residents. We seek a vision plan that is reflective of the community’s needs, and which conforms to 21st Century policing professional best practices. We endeavor to hold Community Forums throughout the county to afford as many residents as possible an opportunity to attend an event close to their homes, and to facilitate valuable dialog concerning perceptions of crime, quality of life issues and police community relations. I’m looking forward to beginning this conversation with the community as we begin to shape and refine a shared vision of policing within Athens-Clarke County.' - Cleveland Spruill, Chief of Police