“To the extent there are clues in the existing data, cultural forces in the general public seem to create more discomfort than just on-campus interactions.”
Academic freedom applies to students, too. It’s sad that so many students are afraid to speak their minds.
The College Fix reports:
59% of students fear disagreeing with professor: national survey
College students at America’s largest 203 colleges continue to censor themselves inside and outside of the classroom, a national survey of 45,000 students concluded.
Students play a significant role in censoring free speech on campus, but colleges can enforce policies that protect it, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression’s third annual College Free Speech Rankings, released in September, for the 2022-23 school year.
Adam Goldstein, FIRE’s vice president of research, told The College Fix in an email on December 16 that the wider culture has contributed to an atmosphere of thought and speech suppression on campus, measured by the report.
“To the extent there are clues in the existing data, cultural forces in the general public seem to create more discomfort than just on-campus interactions.” Goldstein stated. “For example, 41% of students were uncomfortable disagreeing with a professor in a written assignment, but 59% were uncomfortable disagreeing publicly.”
“Similarly, 48% of students were uncomfortable expressing their views on a controversial political topic on campus, while 60% were uncomfortable expressing unpopular opinions to fellow students on social media,” Goldstein stated.
However, Goldstein told the Fix that when it comes to students engaging in at least some forms of censorship, schools can play a big role in protecting free speech by enforcing policies against violent or disruptive tactics.
“Lots of campus censorship isn’t expressive, such as theft of newspapers, ongoing heckler’s vetoes that prevent speakers from speaking entirely, or trashing flyers from ideologically opposed campus groups,” he wrote. “To the extent campus policy or existing law prohibit those actions, enforcement is important. A policy is only ever as good as the will to enforce it.”
Columbia University ranked lowest, receiving a score of ‘Abysmal’
FIRE’s lowest-ranked school for free speech “by far” was Columbia University, with a score of “Abysmal,” according to the report summary. University of Chicago ranked highest for the second time in two years. Other lowest-ranking schools included Skidmore College, Georgetown and the University of Pennsylvania.
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