“slightly larger majority feared expressing themselves because of differences with classmates”
American college professors are becoming increasingly open about their politics in the classroom, even in unrelated subjects. A new survey has found that in response, students are much less comfortable sharing their views on politics, especially if they disagree. It also affects differences between students.
James Freeman writes at the Wall Street Journal:
Most U.S. College Students Afraid to Disagree with Professors
Many U.S. college professors now regularly share their own social and political beliefs in class, and their students feel increasingly afraid to disagree. That’s according to a new national survey of undergraduates due out next week.
When students were asked if they’ve had “any professors or course instructors that have used class time to express their own social or political beliefs that are completely unrelated to the subject of the course,” 52% of respondents said that this occurs “often,” while 47% responded, “not often.”
A majority—53%—also reported that they often “felt intimidated” in sharing their ideas, opinions or beliefs in class because they were different from those of the professors. A slightly larger majority feared expressing themselves because of differences with classmates. On this question 54% said they often felt intimidated in expressing themselves when their views conflicted with those of their peers, compared to 44% who said they didn’t often feel this way.
As we’ve pointed out many times, free speech continues to be an issue on college campuses and this survey found some troubling things on that front:
As for the students, there’s at least a mixed message in the latest survey results. On the downside, the fact that so many students are afraid of disagreeing with their peers does not suggest a healthy intellectual atmosphere even outside the classroom. There’s more disappointing news in the answers to other survey questions. For example, 59% of respondents agreed with this statement:
My college or university should forbid people from speaking on campus who have a history of engaging in hate speech.
The survey also found that while a majority of students support the First Amendment, 17% backed rewriting it.
Freeman discussed this on FOX and Friends:
The amazing thing about this is that college is the one place most people agree should be the most free when it comes to speech. The whole point of higher education is to be exposed to new ideas, to be challenged and to have robust debate about ideas.
If we’re not doing that, what’s the point?
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