“Campuses do not consistently achieve an atmosphere that promotes free expression.”
Free speech continues to be an issue on college campuses, particularly for conservative students.
A new study from the University of North Carolina has some troubling findings.
Why should American taxpayers be on the hook for a student loan bailout when so many students fear they can’t even speak freely on campus?
Professor Jonathan Turley shared this on his blog:
University of North Carolina Study Finds Conservative Students Engage in Self-Censorship on Campus
With the start of classes at George Washington Law School, I have already had visits to my office of conservative and libertarian students asking if I thought they could speak freely in other classes without being penalized by professors. Despite teaching for decades, it is a question that I never heard from students until the last few years. It is now routine…
Polls have shown that sixty-five (65) percent agreed that people on campus today are prevented from speaking freely and an earlier poll at the University of North Carolina found that conservative students are 300 times more likely to self-censor themselves due to the intolerance of opposing views on our campuses.
This study was conducted under a grant from the university by political scientists Timothy Ryan and Andrew Engelhardt of the University of North Carolina, political scientist Jennifer Larson of Vanderbilt, and business scholar Mark McNeilly. The UNC surveyed students from eight UNC institutions and found the same sharp contrast.
Only seven percent of liberal students were concerned about how their professor’s ideology would affect their grades while that rate is 6 times higher for conservatives at 42 percent. Sixty-eight percent of conservatives were worried about sharing their views with other students (as opposed to 31 percent among liberal students).
This part of the study jumped out at me:
Finding 2: Campuses do not consistently achieve an atmosphere that promotes free expression.
Even if university faculty generally have an inclusive posture toward expression issues—as Finding 1 suggests to be the case for the UNC System schools studied—it does not necessarily follow that a culture that promotes free expression has been achieved. This divergence was a theme in our previous report. Across several metrics, we found that students were concerned about expressing their views. Their concerns seemed to focus contra some caricatures of university culture—less on faculty than on their own peers.
Professor Turley recently published a related article in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. Here is an excerpt:
Harm and Hegemony: The Decline of Free Speech in the United States
Throughout its history, the United States has struggled with movements that aim to silence others through state or private action. These periods have been pendulous, with acute suppression followed by relative tolerance for free speech. This boom–or-bust pattern for free speech may well continue. However, the United States is arguably living through one of its most serious anti-free speech periods, and there are signs that the current period could result in lasting damage for free speech due to a rising orthodoxy and intolerance on our campuses and in our public debate. Where fighting for freedom of speech was once a near-universal rallying cry, opposing free speech has now become an article of faith for some in our society. This has led to a rising movement that justifies silencing opposing views, often on the grounds that stopping others from speaking is, in fact, an exercise in free speech. This movement has both public and private components, but it is different from any prior period due to new technological, political, and economic pressures on the exercise of free speech.
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