Owens Sends Letter to Secretary Cardona Over Harassment of Riley Gaines

Apr 28, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Burgess Owens (UT-04) joined 12 Educaution and the Workforce Committee colleagues on a letter to Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, raising major questions about what the Department is doing to protect free speech and intellectual discourse on college campuses following the harassment of former collegiate swimmer Riley Gaines at San Francisco State University.

In the letter, the Members write: “We are appalled at the treatment swimmer Riley Gaines received on April 6, 2023, as an invited speaker at San Francisco State University (‘SFSU’) – a recipient of approximately $58 million in federal education funds over the preceding 12 months. Ms. Gaines’ reception at SFSU was aggressive and violent, unbefitting any institution of higher learning, let alone one that receives federal funding.”

The Members continue: “The Department of Education (‘Department’) has been strangely silent about SFSU’s lack of adequate safety preparation, and more broadly it has failed to demonstrate any leadership on the free exchange of ideas on campuses. In fact, the tenor of the Department’s Federal Register notice of February 22, 2023, (‘Request for Information Regarding First Amendment and Free Inquiry Related Grant Conditions’) appears to imply the Department is contemplating taking away free speech protections that are not only guaranteed by the Constitution but are conditions attached to the receipt of grants by institutions of higher education. Further, the increasing proliferation of cancel culture in American postsecondary education continues to chill the ability of students, faculty, and guest speakers to express their viewpoints. Yet, the Department seems unfazed.”

The members conclude by questioning the specific steps the Department has taken to uphold protected speech on the campuses of colleges and universities:

  • What has the Department done to encourage colleges and universities to ensure the safety of invited speakers?
  • What has the Department done to encourage the full range of intellectual discourse and viewpoints at public colleges and universities?

To read the full letter, click here.

Recent Posts

Feb 29, 2024

Owens Backs Pioneering Bill: A New Frontier in U.S. Education

WASHINGTON – Higher Education and Workforce Development Chairman Burgess Owens (UT-04) joined Reps. Glenn Grothman (WI-06) and Brittany Pettersen (CO-07) to introduce the Empowering Learners through Competency-Based Education Act, which will assist universities in cultivating learning environments that will allow students to learn at their own pace, called competency-based education (CBE), in an effort to […]

Feb 29, 2024

Owens Exposes Hypocrisy and Divisiveness of DEI

WASHINGTON — On Thursday, March 7, at 10:15 a.m. ET, the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, chaired by Rep. Burgess Owens (UT-04), will hold a hearing titled “Divisive, Excessive, Ineffective: The Real Impact of DEI on College Campuses.”“Growing up in segregation, bathrooms, water fountains, and schools were separate. While America has made significant […]

Feb 5, 2024

Utah Congressional Delegation Announces Passport Fairs in Coordination with State Department

Utahns can obtain passport services at five events throughout the state from February 13 – 17 Representative Burgess Owens (UT-04) joined U.S. Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Representatives John Curtis (UT-03), Blake Moore (UT-01), and Celeste Maloy (UT-02), in coordination with the Department of State, to announce five “Passport Fairs” throughout the […]