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Education Last Updated: Oct 26, 2020 - 12:28:25 PM


SHOCK POLL: Most Students *oppose* Allowing Campus Speakers on Controversial Topics
By Jennifer Kabbany
Sep 30, 2020 - 2:18:08 AM

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https://www.thecollegefix.com/shock-poll-most-students-oppose-allowing-campus-speakers-on-controversial-topics/

September 29th 2020

 

The vast majority of college students are opposed - in some cases by wide margins - to allowing speakers on campus who promote controversial topics, such as the idea that Black Lives Matter is a hate group or that abortion should be illegal.

That according to the results of a massive new poll of nearly 20,000 college students nationwide.

"The results were ominous for supporters of free expression on campus," according to a report on the results released Tuesday by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and RealClearEducation, which commissioned the survey.

The free speech poll asked college students a variety of hypothetical questions, including whether they would support or oppose their university allowing a speaker on campus who promotes various hot-button topics.

"Each year, thousands of speakers visit college campuses to give lectures and talks. Yet many such talks have led to controversy, demands for silencing, or even official disinvitations," the report states. "The survey therefore listed several controversial ideological positions and asked students, ‘Would you support or oppose your school ALLOWING a speaker on campus who promotes the following ideas?'"

"We emphasized that the question was merely about allowing such a person to speak on campus, in order to avoid confusion about whether the students themselves supported the positions listed."

The overall results? Most students don't want guest speakers with controversial views on campus.

Seventy one percent replied that they would oppose allowing a speaker on campus who would argue "transgender people have a mental disorder," 64 percent oppose a speaker who'd argue "abortion should be completely illegal," and 75 percent oppose a speaker who'd say "Black Lives Matter is a hate group."

What's more, 85 percent oppose allowing a speaker on campus who promotes the idea that "some racial groups are less intelligent than others," 74 percent oppose a speaker on campus who would argue "all white people are racist," and 55 percent oppose allowing a speaker who'd say "Christianity has a negative influence on society."

Only one hypothetical did not garner a majority of opposition.

Asked "Would you support or oppose your school allowing a speaker on campus who promotes the following idea, ‘The U.S. should support Israeli military policy,'" an even 50 percent were opposed.

Nico Perrino, vice president of communications for FIRE, told The College Fix via email that the "presumption on college campuses should be that controversial speakers are allowed to speak."

"It's startling that with nearly every type of controversial speaker we asked students about, majorities said they would oppose their schools allowing them to speak," he said. "The only exception was a speaker who argues that the United States should support Israeli military policy. ... When it comes to controversial speakers, students flipped the presumption of free speech on its head."

Oddly, when asked whether they would support or oppose their school allowing a speaker on campus who promotes the following idea, "Censoring the news media is necessary," 64 percent were opposed to a speaker who would advance such a cause.

The report calls for "further study" to better understand the results.

Fielded between April and May of this year, students at 55 colleges took part in the survey, representing everything from large public universities to small private colleges to Ivy League schools. The margin of error is plus or minus 0.8 percent.

The poll, conducted by CollegePulse and billed as "the largest survey of college students about free speech on their campuses ever conducted," also includes a ranking of the best and worst colleges and universities for free speech according to students. The results from these hypothetical guest speaker questions were factored into the scores each campus received.

As for the guest speaker hypotheticals, when the results are broken down by political affiliation, a divide emerges between how students who identify as Democrats responded versus students who identify as Republican.

In general, Republican students sided more with free speech than Democratic ones, except when asked about allowing a speaker who argues Christianity has a negative influence on society or a speaker who argues all white people are racist.

Would you support or oppose your school ALLOWING a speaker on campus who promotes the following idea: **Transgender people have a mental disorder**?

71 percent oppose overall
86 percent of Democratic students oppose
49 percent of Republican students oppose

Would you support or oppose your school ALLOWING a speaker on campus who promotes the following idea: **Abortion should be completely illegal**?

64 percent oppose overall
78 percent of Democratic students oppose
34 percent of Republican students oppose

Would you support or oppose your school ALLOWING a speaker on campus who promotes the following idea: **The U.S. should support Israeli military policy**?

50 percent oppose overall
57 percent of Democratic students oppose
39 percent of Republican students oppose

Would you support or oppose your school ALLOWING a speaker on campus who promotes the following idea: **Some racial groups are less intelligent than others**?

85 percent oppose overall
91 percent of Democratic students oppose
78 percent of Republican students oppose

Would you support or oppose your school ALLOWING a speaker on campus who promotes the following idea: **Christianity has a negative influence on society**?

55 percent oppose overall
48 percent of Democratic students oppose
73 percent of Republican students oppose

Would you support or oppose your school ALLOWING a speaker on campus who promotes the following idea: **Censoring the news media is necessary**?

64 percent oppose overall
70 percent of Democratic students oppose
59 percent of Republican students oppose

Would you support or oppose your school ALLOWING a speaker on campus who promotes the following idea: **Black Lives Matter is a hate group**?

75 percent oppose overall
87 percent of Democratic students oppose
54 percent of Republican students oppose

Would you support or oppose your school ALLOWING a speaker on campus who promotes the following idea: **All white people are racist**?

74 percent oppose overall
71 percent of Democratic students oppose
81 percent of Republican students oppose

To access the entire survey results, click here.

MORE: Here are the Top 10 best and worst universities for free speech

[Colour fonts and bolding added.].




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