Less than half of respondents said advancing equity should be a ‘major purpose’ of U.S. higher ed
More adults think expression should be restricted on campus but acknowledge conservatives are least welcome to speak, according to a new poll out from the University of Chicago.
Only 61 percent of respondents said conservatives can “freely speak their minds” on campus “a lot,” according to the survey, released Oct. 2. The Associated Press and the University of Chicago Forum for Free Inquiry and Expression collaborated on the project.
Thirty-seven percent said conservatives can speak their minds on campus “only a little” or “not at all,” according to the data.
“People are least likely to believe conservatives can freely express themselves or be included and respected on campuses,” according to a news release on the poll from the AP.
Even more, while forty-six percent said colleges do a “very good job” or “somewhat good job” at offering “a respectful and inclusive environment” for liberals, just 27 percent said higher education does the same for conservatives, according to the data.
Twenty-six percent said colleges do a “somewhat bad job” or “very bad job” at welcoming the right-of-center.
Sean Stevens, a Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression staff researcher, told The College Fix in a Friday email that the findings on conservatives’ free speech on campus are “notable but also at this point expected.”
“It is consistent with prior polling data from multiple different organizations,” Stevens said.
Only three out of 100 top colleges invited conservatives to address their graduates at commencement last year, The Fix reported at the time.
Another survey released in April, internal to the University of Northern Iowa, found faculty, students and staff reported bias against conservative views, The Fix reported.
In addition to collecting data on how people believe conservatives and liberals are treated on campus, researchers asked about respondents’ views on what speech should be allowed.
A majority support restrictions on what professors can teach and say, according to their results.
Exactly half of people surveyed said professors “should not be allowed” to “teach a curriculum that includes polarizing ideas,” according to the survey.
Sixty-nine percent said professors shouldn’t be able to promote religious views, and 74 percent would forbid professors from voicing “anti-LGBTQ+ views.”
FIRE wrote Tuesday in a statement analyzing the survey data that “a clear majority of Americans want professors’ religious and political speech curtailed on campus.”
However, “it is not clear who Americans would like to enforce these restrictions on faculty,” FIRE continued.
“A majority said that they oppose allowing college or university officials or state actors to restrict what professors can assign in the classroom,” the organization said. “Does this mean that most Americans want students and faculty to police expression in the classroom?”
However, most respondents did say critical thinking, not “equity and inclusion,” ought to be the goal of a university.
Seventy-six percent said the former should be a “major purpose” of the university, and 82 percent said a primary objective should be teaching information and skills for work.
Less than half — forty-six percent — of respondents said that a “major purpose” of a university should be to “advance equity and inclusion,” and 21 percent said this was “not a purpose.”
Researchers conducted the nationwide poll between September 7 and 11, with online and telephone interviews of 1,095 adults representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The University of Chicago Forum for Free Inquiry and Expression, poll co-sponsor, launched this week with its first round of programs, The College Fix reported Wednesday.
The forum, dedicated to “free and open discourse,” has been in the making since at least February, The Fix reported.
IMAGE: Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley/Shutterstock; University of Chicago