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SURVEY: Half of U.S. College Students "Intimidated" When Sharing Views

Contact: Lauren Noble: 781-698-9208

Lauren@BuckleyProgram.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALMOST HALF (49%) OF U.S. COLLEGE STUDENTS "INTIMIDATED" BY PROFESSORS WHEN SHARING DIFFERING BELIEFS: SURVEY

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72% say their college or university should be doing more to promote diversity of opinions in the classroom and on campus

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Almost One-Third (32%) Misidentify First Amendment

New Haven CT -- Oct. 26...A national survey measuring the opinions of U.S. college students on the issue of free speech on college campuses was released today by The William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale, which sponsored the poll.

The 2015 Buckley Free Speech Survey, which was conducted by nationally respected pollster, McLaughlin & Associates, revealed a wealth of information about how college students view rights and topics such as: The First Amendment; speech codes; academic freedom; trigger warnings; "political correctness;" and intellectual diversity, among other things. The national survey of 800 undergraduate students was conducted online and respondents were carefully selected and screened from a nationwide representative platform of individuals who elect to participate in online surveys.

The survey can be viewed here.

"The William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale was founded to increase intellectual diversity on the Yale University campus and beyond, and this survey shows that we have a great deal of work to do," said Buckley Program founder and executive director Lauren Noble. "The survey results confirmed some of what we expected, but they also revealed troubling surprises. It is the opinion of the Buckley Program that university campuses are best served by free and open speech, but, lamentably, that opinion is anything but unanimous, the survey shows. "

Highlights from the 2015 Buckley Free Speech Survey include:

· Forty-nine percent (49%) of survey participants said they have often felt intimidated to share beliefs that differ from their professors, including 14% who said "frequently" and 35% who said "sometimes";

· Exactly half (50%) said they have often felt intimidated to share beliefs that differ from their classmates, including 16% who said "frequently" and 34% who said "sometimes";

· The majority of students (53%) say their professors have often used class time to express their own views about matters outside of coursework, including 14% who say "frequently" and 38% who say "sometimes";

· Greater than six in ten (63%) say political correctness on college campuses is either a "big problem" (19%) or "somewhat of a problem" (44%);

· Fifty-five percent (55%) of students say they are aware of "trigger warnings" and 63% would favor their professors using them, while 23% would oppose;

· By a 52-42% margin, students say their college or university should forbid people from speaking on campus who have a history of engaging in hate speech;

· Seventy-two percent (72%) of students surveyed said they support disciplinary action for "any student or faculty member on campus who uses language that is considered racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise offensive";

· When students were asked to identify the amendment that deals with free speech, 68% correctly cited the First Amendment. One in three (32%) incorrectly listed another amendment;

· The majority (52%) said that the First Amendment does not make an exemption for hate speech and that all speech is protected under the First Amendment. One in three (35%) say that hate speech is not protected under the First Amendment;

· By a 73% to 21% margin, students say the First Amendment is an important amendment that needs to be followed and respected rather than an outdated amendment that can no longer be applied in today's society and should be changed.

· Liberal students are more likely than conservative students to say the First Amendment is outdated, 30% to 10%, respectively;

· By a nearly two to one margin, students said their school is generally more tolerant of liberal ideas and beliefs than conservative ideas and beliefs, 37% to 20%. Thirty-six percent (36%) said their school was equally tolerant of both.

· Private school students are more likely than public school students to say their school is more tolerant of liberal ideas, 43% to 35%, respectively;

· Ninety-five percent (95%) of all college students say the issue of free speech is important to them, including 70% who say it is "very important";

· By a 51% to 36% margin, students favor their school having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty.

· Eight in ten believe that freedom of speech should either be less limited (38%) on college campuses or there should be no difference (43%) compared to society at large. Just 16% say freedom of speech should be more limited;

· When given a choice, just one in ten (10%) say colleges, universities and government should regulate free speech more. A slight plurality (46%) says free speech is important, but there should be exceptions to every rule and 42% support freedom of speech in all cases;

· Seven in ten (72%) say their college or university should be doing more to promote policies that increase diversity of opinions in the classroom and on campus;

· Almost nine in ten (87%) agree that there is education value in listening to and understanding views and opinions that they may disagree with and are different than their own;

Those surveyed were:

· Political party: 42% Democratic, 26% Republican, 29% independent;

· Ideology: 44% liberal, 32% moderate, 20% conservative, and

· Race/Ethnicity: 54% white, 15% African American, 14% Hispanic/Latino, 8% Asian, 7% one or more.

POLL METHODOLOGY ON NEXT PAGE:

Methodology

McLaughlin & Associates conducted a national survey of 800 undergraduate students from September 19th to 28th, 2015. All interviews were conducted online and respondents were carefully selected and screened from a nationwide representative platform of individuals who elect to participate in online surveys.

Data for this survey have been stratified by age, race, sex and geography using the National Center for Education Statistics 2014 Report to reflect the actual demographic composition of undergraduate students in the United States.

Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation rather than a probability sample, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated. All surveys may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error and measurement error.

However, a confidence interval of 95% was calculated in order to produce an error estimate of +/- 3.4% for the 800 respondents. This error estimate should be taken into consideration in much the same way that analysis of probability polls takes into account the margin of sampling error. The error estimate increases for cross-tabulations. Totals may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.

© 2018 by William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale 

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