Self-proclaimed “idealists” on college campuses across the country are growing increasingly intolerant of political views that challenge the liberal establishment or conservative values on topics ranging from homosexuality to immigration.
Of course, the suppression of conservative views isn’t an officially sanctioned policy (at least, not at most schools, though that is slowly beginning to change). But one thing to remember is that this militant adherence to political correctness is enforced by a tiny minority of students. And the outsize influence that they exert on school administrators, and on school policies, is stoking resentment among more conservative students.
A recent Gallup poll measuring attitudes about intellectual freedom on university campuses showed that students are increasingly aware that it’s not acceptable for some students to speak their mind in class or elsewhere on campus. But instead of this trend leading to a backlash, the study showed that a growing number of students have come to accept this strictures.
Even Democrats Have Their Doubts
Contrary to what one might expect, students who identify as Democrats (63%) and are even more likely than Republicans (53%) to acknowledge that students can’t speak their minds on their respective college campuses. independents (62%), meanwhile, are about as skeptical as Democrats.
Per Gallup, these results were gleaned from its 2017 Gallup/Knight Foundation survey of 3,014 randomly sampled US college students about First Amendment issues. The survey is an update of a nationally representative 2016 Knight Foundation/Newseum Institute/Gallup survey on the same topic.
Disillusionment Is Deepening
In addition to Republicans, most key subgroups are more inclined now than in 2016 to agree that climate on their campus can inhibit expression. Independents and blacks show slightly greater increases, 13% and 14%, respectively, than other subgroups.
Fewer Students Prefer Campus That Allows All Types of Speech
While more students now agree that their campus climate stifles free speech, fewer students now (70%) than in 2016 (78%) favor allowing unfettered free speech, even that which is offensive. In contrast, 29% of students now, up from 22% in 2016, would rather campuses be “positive learning environments for all students” by prohibiting certain speech that is offensive or biased.
With these findings in mind, we’d like to direct your attention to a report we published early this year showing six things college students were offended about last year.