2020 College Free Speech Rankings Reveal Crisis on Campus

Real Clear Education:

  • Almost 20% of students say that using violence to stop an unwanted speech or event is in some cases acceptable. Among Ivy League students, 36% said that it was “always” or “sometimes” acceptable to shout down a speaker one doesn’t like.
  • Sixty percent of college students say they have kept quiet due to fear of how others would respond. Among conservative students, that number is 72%.

A university should be a place where students can be exposed to new ideas, where they can engage freely in debate and discussion. But do college students really feel free to speak their minds on campus? Newly released College Free Speech Rankings show that, at most colleges, the answer is no.

RealClearEducation launched the College Free Speech Rankings, with an interactive website, so parents and students can see how schools they’re interested in stack up.

The rankings are based on a survey of nearly 20,000 students at 55 schools across the country. The survey reveals some startling facts. Almost 20% of students say that using violence to stop an unwanted speech or event is in some cases acceptable. Among Ivy League students, 36% said that it was “always” or “sometimes” acceptable to shout down a speaker one doesn’t like.

Self-censorship is also a major problem. Sixty percent of college students say they have kept quiet due to fear of how others would respond. Among conservative students, that number is 72%.

Colleges have become perilous places to express unpopular ideas. Professors and students fear being shouted down, shunned, or, in some cases, fired or expelled. This has a chilling effect on the classroom.

Jonathan Haidt, a professor at New York University, frames the problem this way: “At my university we have a ‘bias response line.’ Students are encouraged to anonymously report anyone who says anything that offends them. So, as a professor, I no longer take risks; I must teach to the most easily offended student in the class. I therefore avoid saying or doing anything provocative. My classes are less fun and engaging.”

The University of Chicago received the highest score in the College Free Speech Rankings. Both liberal and conservative students there say that the administration supports tolerance for a wide range of views and opinions. Rounding out the top five in the rankings are Kansas State, Texas A&M, UCLA, and Arizona State.

Read more at Real Clear Education

Buy on Amazon!