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Survey: Most Students Self-Censor on Campus and Online

September 23, 2021
 
 

More than 80 percent of college students said they self-censor at least some of the time on campus, with 21 percent saying they self-censor often, according to ​a new survey conducted by RealClearEducation, College Pulse and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which covered more than 37,000 students enrolled at 159 colleges.

The survey found that more than half of students identify racial inequality as "a difficult topic" to discuss on their campuses. Forty percent said they felt comfortable publicly disagreeing with a professor, which is down 5 percent from last year’s survey. And almost one in four students agreed it was acceptable to use violence to stop a campus speech, a 5 percent increase over last year. At elite colleges, it was even higher, with one in three students saying violence was acceptable. Additionally, 66 percent of students said it was acceptable to silence a speaker on campus by shouting them down, which is up four percentage points from last year.

The survey also evaluated institutions on their tolerance of free speech, basing scores on factors including openness, tolerance for speakers on the right and on the left, administrative support for free speech, and comfort expressing ideas. This year, Claremont McKenna College in California ranked first, with a score of 72.27 out of 100. Other top universities include the University of Chicago, the University of New Hampshire, Emory University and Florida State University. DePauw University in Indiana ranked last for the second year in a row. Marquette University, Louisiana State University, and Boston College were also at the bottom of the list.

(This story has been updated to correct a coding error in the survey's ranking system.)

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