Free Speech on College Campuses: What We All Have Wrong

(NewsBreakDaily.org) – Free speech on college campuses has been a hot-button issue for a while now. Both conservatives and liberals are quick to point out where they think the problems are. However, recent studies show that both sides have it wrong.

Different Ideologies

Conservatives point to speakers who have been uninvited from colleges or being interrupted during their speeches. In their eyes, college professors are to blame because they use their influence to indoctrinate students with their liberal ideals.

Liberals have different complaints when it comes to college campuses and the First Amendment. They firmly believe that conservatives are blowing the situation way out of proportion. In their eyes, Republicans always want to play the victim and are using free speech as an excuse to do just that.

What Researchers Found

When looking at issues regarding free expression at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, researchers found that the narratives coming from both liberals and conservatives are flawed.

According to a survey of UNC students, they do, indeed, censor themselves. There was a divide between right-leaning and liberal-leaning students when it came to how often they kept their opinion to themselves. While 68% of conservative students said they censored themselves, only 23% of liberal students said the same.

But here’s the surprise: Students censor themselves not just because of their professors, but also because of how they think their peers might react.

When asked if their professors “encouraged participation from liberals and conservatives alike,” an overwhelming majority said they did with only 2% of liberals and 11% of conservatives saying no. In response to the question of whether their instructor “was interested in learning from people with opinions that differed from the instructor’s own opinions,” only 6% of liberals and 14% of conservatives said no.

However, students reported that their real anxiety came from concerns over their peers rather than professors. This was also where there was the largest divide between right-leaning and left-leaning students.

A whopping 75% of conservative students said they worried about what other students would think of their political ideals but only 26% of liberal students shared this fear. Similarly, 46% of conservative students said they were concerned with reactions to their social media posts. Only 10% of liberal students worried about this.

Right-Leaning Students Feel More Pressure

Clearly, students do have fears about using their right to free speech on college campuses. It’s also obvious that conservative students are the ones who feel as though they’ll be ostracized for their opinions. And if we look around the country, to all of the right-leaning speakers who’ve been met with animosity on campuses, it seems as though they are correct.

While the professors may not be indoctrinating students, their peers absolutely make their lives uncomfortable, according to the conservatives who attend college. For that reason, they are forced to stay silent and that is not what our Founding Fathers envisioned for this country.

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