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College women and blacks favor ‘inclusivity’ over free speech, survey finds

Same results for students of minority religions 

If you survey all college students, they are closely divided on which value is more important, free speech or inclusivity. If you dig into the demographics, however, some sharp but unsurprising differences emerge.

The latest survey of college students by College Pulse, supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, finds that women, blacks and members of minority religions favor inclusivity by a wide margin.

In a Knight Foundation blog post, the First Amendment organization said around 6 in 10 students in those three categories believe that it’s “more important to promote an inclusive society that welcomes diverse groups” than “to protect free speech.”

Strangely, the full report doesn’t provide the exact figures for women and blacks, just saying that “nearly” and “more than” six in 10 favor inclusivity. Another blog post by a foundation staffer provides the exact figure for women – 58 percent – but not for blacks.

Religious groups get a full graph in the report. Jewish students favor inclusivity by the widest margin (65 percent), followed by “Non-Christian Religion” (60 percent), unaffiliated (54 percent) and nonwhite Protestants (51 percent). The non-Christians are defined as “East Asian religions such as Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism.”

Whites, men and dominant religious groups favor free speech. Mormons are the most lopsided of any demographic (81 percent), followed among religious groups by white evangelical Protestants (71 percent), white mainline Protestants (64 percent) and Catholics (62 percent). Among men, 71 percent favor free speech. Just 50 percent of Hispanics agree. (Hispanic students appear to be the most closely divided across all questions, typically hovering around 50 percent.)

MORE: Surveys show students will buy repression cloaked as ‘diversity and inclusion’

Women are also far more hostile to the First Amendment than men: 53 percent say “hate speech” should not be protected by law, while 74 percent of men support protections. (The survey defines hate speech as “attacks [on] people based on their race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation.”)

Blacks are even more hostile than women, with only 48 percent supporting the First Amendment’s protection for hate speech, but the most hostile group is “gay and lesbian” students at 35 percent. (The survey doesn’t mention bisexual, transgender and other sexual/gender minorities.)

Minorities and women are also more supportive of shouting down speakers than men and whites. Fewer than half of white women (45 percent), Hispanics (41 percent), blacks (38 percent) and Asian Pacific Islander students (37 percent) agree that “it is never acceptable to try and prevent speakers on campus from expressing their views.” A majority of whites (53 percent) and white men (65 percent) say it’s never acceptable.

The survey was conducted in December via mobile app and web portal on about 4,400 full-time students in four-year programs, sampled from College Pulse’s survey population of more than 215,000 undergraduates. They take surveys in exchange for “Pulse Points” that they can redeem in drawings for prizes including iPhones, electric bikes and gift cards, meaning the survey is likely skewed toward poorer students.

The response rate was 44 percent. College Pulse mitigated the effects of “non-response bias” by adjusting the demographic distributions based on age, race and ethnicity, and gender. The survey does not provide a margin of error.

Read the full report and two Knight Foundation blog posts.

h/t Inside Higher Ed

MORE: Most high schoolers support censorship of ‘offensive’ opinions

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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