The survey results establish with data what has been clear anecdotally to anyone who has been observing campus dynamics in recent years: Freedom of expression is deeply imperiled on U.S. campuses. In fact, despite protestations to the contrary (often with statements like “we fully support the First Amendment, but…), freedom of expression is clearly not, in practice, available on many campuses, including many public campuses that have First Amendment obligations.
- “Fewer than half of the respondents [44 percent] indicated a belief that hate speech is constitutionally protected.”
- “62 percent of Democrats but ‘only’ 39 percent of Republicans [agreed] that it was acceptable to shout down the speaker. More generally, I find the numbers in the above table to be highly concerning, because they show that a very significant fraction of students, across all categories, believe it is acceptable to silence (by shouting) a speaker they find offensive.”
- Close to 20 percent of respondents believed that it would be acceptable for a student group opposed to an offensive speaker to use violence to prevent the speaker from speaking.
- “The majority of students [53 percent] appear to prefer an environment in which their institution is expected to create an environment that shelters them from offensive views.”
The way the survey results have been presented are “malpractice” and “junk science” and “it should never have appeared in the press”, according to Cliff Zukin, a former president of the American Association of Public Opinion Polling, which sets ethical and transparency standards for polling….[Villasenor’s] survey was not administered to a randomly selected group of college students nationwide, what statisticians call a “probability sample”. Instead, it was given to an opt-in online panel of people who identified as current college students.“If it’s not a probability sample, it’s not a sample of anyone, it’s just 1,500 college students who happen to respond,” Zukin said, calling it “junk science”.“It’s an interesting piece of data,” Michael Traugott, a polling expert at the University of Michigan’s Center for Political Studies, said. “Whether it represents the proportion of all college students who believe this is unknown.”
- Americans are still more dedicate to protecting free speech than other countries;
- College-educated citizens are far more likely to defend freedom of speech than less-educated citizens.