Study: Sixty-Five Percent of College Students Believe that They Cannot Speak Freely on Campus

We often discuss (including a controversy today) the growing intolerance for opposing views on our campuses and the rising generation of censors in our society. Students and even faculty members increasingly call for the silencing or firing of those who espouse opposing views on a range of different subjects. The speech codes and sanctions on campuses have silenced many who might voice dissenting views, as we have seen in prior polling. That has created a type of academic echo chamber in scholarship and classrooms. Now, a new study offers insights into the extent of that chilling effect for our students. The Knight Foundation released a new study showing that sixty-five (65) percent agreed that people on campus today are prevented from speaking freely. The poll is additional evidence of the failure of administrators and faculty to maintain campuses as forums for free thought and intellectual engagement.

The Foundation enlisted Ipsos to assemble a “nationally representative sample of over 1,000 college students ages 18-24 enrolled in all types of higher education institutions, along with 4,000 American adults.” The report, “College Student Views on Free Expression and Campus Speech 2022,” is part of the Knight Free Expression (KFX) Research Series.

The polling also showed that fifty-nine (59) percent say that they believe schools should be places where students hear all types of speech, even speech considered offensive or biased. Less than half felt that their free speech rights are secure today.

This study shows that conservatives and Republicans on campus feel the loss of free speech most acutely. That is consistent with other studies. For example, an earlier poll at the University of North Carolina found that conservative students are 300 times more likely to self-censor themselves due to the intolerance of opposing views on our campuses.

What was most striking about the study was the comparative decline among independents and republicans in just three years. From 2019 to 2021, independents feeling that free speech is secure in the country went from 59 percent to 46 percent. For republicans, it went from 52 percent to 27 percent. For democrats the decline was only 2 percent. One obvious take from those figures is that speech codes and enforcement actions favor Democratic speakers and groups. Their speech has not been curtailed as the dominant group on campuses.

The poll is an indictment of our educational system and, yes, our educators. Faculty have remained silent (or supported) the establishment of a new orthodoxy on our campuses. The speech intolerance shown on many campuses stifles intellectual discourse and chills the free speech of many of our students. However, most faculty members remain conspicuously silent rather than risk being tagged or targeted in the next cancelling campaign.



90 thoughts on “Study: Sixty-Five Percent of College Students Believe that They Cannot Speak Freely on Campus”

  1. @jeffsilberman

    I would bet dollars to donuts that you hate individuals such as me more than the vice versa. Perhaps an amicable divorce is in order so you can achieve the leftist utopia. Agreed?


  2. Svelaz,

    I, for one, will NEVER be swayed to accept Turley’s arguments until he engages in a debate in which his arguments can be challenged. He presumes that all speech is made in good faith, but he knows there are liars among us. Years ago, he recognized Trump as being a “carnival snake charmer,” in effect, a liar. He called the idea of Trump moderating a presidential debate as “obscene”! Would any Trumpist think so? Turley called Trump an “absurd reality television star,” and in so doing, he discredited him as someone unworthy of being taken seriously, in effect, censuring him from politics. Would not Trumpists decry Turley’s objection to Trump moderating a political debate as an effort to silence him?

    That was who Turley was then in 2011; not who he is now as a Fox News employee. However, the question for Turley still obtains:

    Is there ANY contention made in bad faith which we SHOULD ignore? Or must a college provide a platform to host and seriously consider such arguments as those in favor of, say, “separate but equal,” and once again have to counter them with good arguments?

    He must address the limits, if any, of his free speech philosophy. He must advise us when we can ignore liars.

    1. Jeff. I have no argument with your sentiments and I too agree with your analysis of Turley’s own problems with his free speech philosophy.

      It’s been my understanding from the various columns about free speech and the deep scrutiny that some of us put into his opinions that the majority of the free speech issues he brings up are nothing more than conservative groups or individuals using the mantra of being “denied free speech” to cow schools or organizations into giving them what they really wanted which turns out most of the time is access to funds or a demand to be funded or a dispute over security or rules. It’s rarely about the ability to express their views.

      Turley once used Shapiro as an example of conservatives being denied their right to speak, but he overlook the core of the dispute which was Shapiro refusing to pay for the extra security required due to the inflammatory nature of his opinions, especially in liberal colleges and universities. This is intentional.

      1. Svelaz,

        Turley is being employed by Fox to maintain a safe space for its brand of hate under the guise of protecting free speech. We all agreed that liars should be protected from Big Brother. This debate is about Little Brother. It is often been said that one’s right to swing one’s arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins. I say that the right to speak freely ends where my ear begins.

  3. Here are three questions comparing the woke and non-woke:

    1. During the 2020 elections, which car was more likely to be ‘keyed,’ i.e., deliberately scratched — a car with a ‘Joe Biden’ bumper sticker in an overwhelmingly conservative area, or a car with a ‘Donald Trump’ sticker in an overwhelmingly liberal area?

    2. When speaking at colleges, do right-wing or left-wing speakers need and receive police protection?

    3. In a debate between a right-wing and a left-wing speaker before an audience equally divided between left and right, which audience group is more likely to boo and hiss at the speaker with whom it disagrees — the liberal or the conservative?

    Here are the answers:

    1. Where I live in liberal Los Angeles, drivers of most vehicles with Trump-Pence bumper stickers have told me (and I have often seen) that their cars (and mine) were deliberately scratched. When I have asked about the fate of cars with Biden-Harris stickers in equally conservative areas in, for example, Orange County or even the Bible Belt, no Democrat has reported such intentional damage to his car. This does not mean it never happens, only that it is far more rare. I would bet a lot of money — and I am not a gambler — that cars displaying conservative messages in liberal areas are far more likely to be defaced than cars with liberal messages in conservative areas.

    2. When Ann Coulter goes to college campuses, she is accompanied by a bodyguard. And colleges routinely bring in police to protect her and to guard against student violence. No bodyguard or police contingent is necessary for BLM activist speeakers. Another leftist, Noam Chomsky, a man who has devoted his life to attacking America, goes from campus to campus without worrying about having so much as a pie thrown at him, something regularly done to conservative David Horowitz.

    3. Whenever I have debated representatives of the Left before politically mixed audiences, I have been hissed and booed far more than my opponent was. Others who debate leftists report identical experiences. Why? Because in general, conservative members of the audience are more civil and less angry.

    There are a few reasons for this discrepancy. One is that the more left one goes, the more one is likely to encounter people who substitute ‘social justice’ for personal morality. Another is that in the eyes of most leftists, people who oppose their ‘progressive’ views on the environment, the war and taxes are such morally inferior people that they are not owed decent behavior.

    But the biggest reason is the most obvious one: the woke hate the non-woke far more than vice versa.

    As many lefties have said, ‘Our moral values, in contradiction to the Republicans’, is we don’t think kids ought to go to bed hungry at night.’ Republicans don’t care about starving children. Liberals deem conservatives to be racist, homophobic, war mongering, money worshipping and sexist. It makes perfect sense to hate such people. I would, too.

    The converse is not true. Conservatives tend to view liberals as immature and foolish. But childish adults and fools don’t merit the hatred that racists do. And the liberal charge that conservatives generally label war critics ‘traitors’ is pure fabrication.

    Liberals may counter that conservatives hated Hillary Clinton. But that hatred has been more than matched by liberals’ hatred for Donald Trump. And more to the point, Donald Trump is one individual. Liberals hate virtually all conservatives with the same intensity that many conservatives hated one person named Hillary Clinton.

    We see leftists as wrong or naive, they see us as absolute evil and standing in the way of their utopian vision.

    There are conservative examples of such hatred. But they are much more rare. I am comparing the typical passionate liberal with the equally passionate conservative.

    If you don’t believe me, try my car test. And send the repair bill to the BLM or Antifa.

    1. Antonio says:

      “There are conservative examples of such hatred.”

      Finally, you admit it! Check your list against mine:

      Alex Jones,
      Michael Savage,
      Mark Levin
      Glenn Beck

      Whose on your list?

  4. Once again, this is where Yuri Bezmenov details how we got to the point.
    1. Demoralization – completed
    2. Destabilization – completed
    3. Crisis – we are in it
    4. Normalization – not yet

    Destabilization process usually leads directly to the process of crisis. In the case of developing nations — this is the area where I was active — the process starts when the legitimate bodies of power, the social structure, collapse. It cannot function anymore. So instead, we have artificial bodies injected into society such as non-elected committees. You remember I was talking about them here. Social workers who are not elected by people, media who are self-appointed rulers of your opinion, some strange groups which claim that they know how to lead society forward. They don’t, usually. All they care [about] how to collect donations and sell their own concocted ideology, mixture of religion and ideology. Here we have all these artificial bodies claiming power. If the power is denied to them, they take it by force. In the case of Iran, for example, all of a sudden we have revolutionary committees. What kind of revolution? There was no revolution yet. And yet they had the committees. They were the taking power of judgment. They had they had the power of execution, they had the power of legislation, and they had the power of judicial. All of them combined in one person who is half-baked intellectual, sometimes graduated from Harvard University or Berkeley. He comes back to his country and then he thinks that he knows the answer to all the social and economical problems.

    Crisis is when society cannot function any more, productively. It collapses. Obviously, that’s the word for crisis. So therefore, the population at large is looking for a savior. The religious groups are expecting a messiah to come. The workers say, we have a family to feed. Let’s have a strong government, maybe a socialist government, centralized, where somebody will put the employers in their place and let us work. We are sick and tired of going to strike and missing overtime and all that stuff. We need some strong man, strong government. A leader, a savior is needed. The population is sick and tired of waiting. And here we are. We have a savior. Either a foreign nation comes in or the local group of leftists, Marxists — no matter what they call themselves — Sandinistas, a reverend of some sort, Bishop Muzorewa like in Zimbabwe. Doesn’t matter. His savior comes and says, “I will lead you.”

  5. Other College News:

    Supreme Court Looks To Upturn Another Well-Established Precedent: Affirmative Action

    The Supreme Court said Monday it will revisit the question of affirmative action in higher education, deciding to hear cases challenging the use of race as one factor in admissions at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.

    With the court already having heard arguments this term on abortion and guns, the affirmative action cases mark yet another politically charged issue that threatens to uproot decades of legal doctrine. Arguments in the two cases will likely be heard in the court’s new term, which begins in October.

    The court will consider more than just the details of how Harvard and UNC operate their affirmative action programs. It will also reexamine 43 years of precedent by asking whether race can ever play a role in admissions.

    Both cases were filed on the same day, back in 2014, by the conservative activist group Students for Fair Admissions. The suits claimed that Harvard and UNC impermissibly used race in their admissions processes and discriminated against Asian Americans.

    Starting in 1978, the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of affirmative action programs three times. In each, the court’s controlling opinion was authored by a traditionally conservative justice. But all of those justices have retired or died, and three of the justices who voted against affirmative action in 2016 — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito — are still on the court. And they now have been joined by three Trump-appointed conservatives.

    The man behind these suits and others like it is Edward Blum, a conservative legal movement unto himself. The former financial adviser and onetime failed congressional candidate has been the driving force behind cases opposing affirmative action for years.

    Prior to that, Blum also spearheaded attacks on the 1965 Voting Rights Act, culminating in the court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, essentially gutting the law.

    He has been similarly undaunted in his attacks on affirmative action. After the court rejected Blum’s challenge to the affirmative action policy at the University of Texas in 2016, he retooled his strategy, this time taking aim at Harvard and claiming that high-achieving Asian American students were being denied admission because of race.

    Though he initially struggled to get Asian American students to join his suit — he filed the lawsuit before actually finding any — his organization, Students for Fair Admissions, now says it has 20,000 members. It is unclear, though, how many of those members are Asian Americans. Blum says only that there are now “dozens and dozens” of them, though he doesn’t know how many because the organizations doesn’t ask the race of its members.


    Presumably this suit was filed on behalf of Asian students. But the man behind this suit is an older, White conservative activist. What’s more, the court is showing ‘activist’ tenndacies by considering this case.

  6. As a graduate of an Ivy League university back in the late 60’s when the changes we’re seeing today began to take serious root, it has taken 50 years to get here and in my opinion, and I hope I’m wrong on this, but the way it looks to me is that we haven’t just reach ‘critical mass,’ we’ve passed it.

  7. E.M. says:

    “Groupthink is unchallenged thinking.”

    Some examples of Trump challenging thinking:

    “I alone can fix it.”

    “What you are seeing and hearing is not what’s happening.”

    “Fake news.”

    “Listen to me. Listen Only To Me.”

    If that is not “groupthink” ….

  8. Signs that you are dealing with Woke mentality or Childish behavior:

    1. Immature defense mechanism: attacking anyone who expresses a viewpoint from what they want.
    2. Narcissistic: hearing only themselves and emotionally fragile.
    3. Bully: Hostility without boundaries.
    4. Impulsive: speak recklessly without thought of consequences.
    5. Blaming others:
    6. Lies: cannot deal with reality or speak truth.
    7. Name Calling: attacking others and labeling.
    8. Emotional escalation: cry, petulance, gets mad.
    9. Unable to acknowledge mistakes.

  9. The 70% should have been required to serve their nation (the draft) as their grandparents and great grandparents. Their spines would have stiffened, love of country, appreciation of freedom and the constitution would have been learned, no one would be threatening their freedom to speak. Stop being weenies way too many have given way too much to preserve free speech. Speak up!

  10. This should deeply concern civil libertarians of from all communities of interest, not just politics. Such intimidation and restrictions are dangerous.

    Groupthink is unchallenged thinking. The true scientific method is to question everything, verify, check again, verify again, compare, debate. If it is a good idea or if it a truth, there is no fear, because it will stand true and endure over time.

  11. The republican Virginia Governor signed a executive order banning the teaching of “inherently divisive concepts” and it must have slipped Turley’s mind somehow…….

    1. You must be one of the democrats. How does an EO a few days ago all of a sudden restore free speech at universities? It doesn’t, wack job.

    2. Fishwings, that’s the thing. There are far more egregious attempts at stifling free speech at the legislative level than just schools. Bans on CRT or just teaching kids history because they may get “uncomfortable or feel guilty”. It seems to me that Turley’s protestations are merely an attempt at making a mountain out of a mole hill about free speech issues on campuses. Especially when they involve these hardly heard of universities or private institutions.

      1. Svelaz,

        I would not be surprised if Turley’s forthcoming book will be on the topic of “Little Brother” censorship. It seems that he is constantly making a case to buy his book by raising all these alarm bells. You heard it here first.

      2. Svelaz: Right, because no one’s ever heard of Harvard, Princeton or Yale. Your comments are so ridiculous that they actually prove Turley’s points rather than counter them. Just because CNN and MSNBC, where you obviously get your “news” from, never report on cancel culture issues doesn’t mean they aren’t key. And if you really want to defend CRT and the 1619 Project, you should better inform yourself as to what they actually say, because judging from your comment, you haven’t got a clue.

    3. Troll #2. I asked troll #1 the same question, do you get to suck off david brock if you troll every turley post with garbage, despite the fact it makes the left look more addled? Do you people really have so little self-awareness?

      The hilarious thing is that Turley’s posts supersede the need for comments as they clearly expose the clownish left’s lameness, but then, and this is the best part, more clowns pile on to enhance the effect. Keep it up, VA is gone, GA, MI, MN, and PA are next – thank you.

      1. Turley must be kvelling to have you as a follower. And Darren must be adjudging whether your comments are too uncivil not to be removed lest they disgrace this forum.

        1. Uncivil? I asked a straightforward question, what do you get from/for david brock or some such troll agency for your non-stop trolling?

          Clearly you cannot be so un-self-aware that your posts do not do anything to advance causes you ostensibly support, but only to harden the division between the sides. You make no attempts, EVER, to debate. You only use whataboutisms or other diversions.

          Maybe that is an effective blog trolling technique? IDK. I simply want to know what you, personally, get out of such childish antics.

          It’s like you, krasssensteins, et al have a form of blog-turrets or something.

          1. I just wish we could ask Turley what he thinks of your “straight forward” question. We both know the answer.

  12. Geez, Turley who is often disingenuous with his columns about free speech and supposed “attacks on free speech” is relying on a poll to give it credence? Polls are not exactly reliable indicators as evidenced by polls during elections.

    Many of Turley’s columns regarding conservatives or republicans being “censored” or being forced to “self sensor” because their views are not popular on campus are not really about free speech. Conservative groups often cry foul or use the claim they are being denied their rights to free speech because they are denied something different such as a charter or funding. Things that have nothing to do with their free speech rights. The last column was not about free speech, it was about access to funds and requirements for moderators at a PRIVATE school. The student body accused of “denying a free speech group” a charter the right to free speech wasn’t denying them their right to free speech.

    It’s been a pattern among conservative student groups or individuals to use complaints about their free speech as a means to get their way on other things they want. The free speech arguments are often used as a means to coerce student bodies or institutions by publicly shaming an institution into forcing them to grant them a privilege that has nothing to do with free speech.

    It’s a bullying tactic essentially and Turley sometimes seems naive in believing it’s a free speech issue. That last column is a very good example of that.

    The reality is the issue is not as big or dire as Turley portrays it.

  13. They are dominating young people at the cost of destroying American traditions.

    The have a template. Some little known book written a long time ago. “1984” might be the name of the book.

    1. You are correct, but alas, even Orwell’s classic is now under fire, along with that old British playwright from Avon and a host of others.
      Too many faculty have too often buckled to demands for trigger warnings and other ways of restricting and censoring speech, abandoning the classroom to students and colleagues who were activists and ideologues. In effect, they enabled the bad guys, who seized the power which their colleagues had abrogated, so faculty governance ceded control of the colleges and universities to those committed enough to seize control of them.
      Most faculty tend their own gardents and have little taste for confrontation and none for combat, although a great many are happy to go along to get along. When they no longer selected the best scholars to administer departments, faculties, and universities, and instead allowed those who wanted the positions to obtain them, or, even worse, hired outsiders with degrees in HR or administration, the Academy could not survive for long as a bastion of free speech and inquiry.
      This was hardly a surprise. There is no way to falsify theories in the social sciences and humanities, so you cannot have paradigm shifts nor correct frauds who rise to positions of power because no matter how absurd their scholarship, they will have their supporters, and those who disagree will be denigrated and dismissed. The influx of money through grants from outside organizations, the competition for money, and the tendency of most faculty to focus on their courses and research enabled the campus politicians and entrepreneurs to seize control of the institutions. By the time the faculty who believed in the older values of tolerance, free speech, and free inquiry realized what was happening, they were badly outnumbered.
      All you can do now is hope that some miraculous force manages to reform institutions that have as much integrity as Mr. Toad.

  14. In the words of the Brave, Masked, Wonderful, Warriors of Antifa ™, “Your speech is violence and ours is self defense.”

    Anti fascist is in the name, what is there not to like?

    You’d better believe it or you’re a “nazi”.

    In an attempt to help antifa, I suggest they take their message of love and joy to the small towns of mid-America. I am sure they would receive a warm reception.


  15. “The Knight Foundation released a new study showing that sixty-five (65) percent agreed that people on campus today are prevented from speaking freely. The poll is additional evidence of the failure of administrators and faculty to maintain campuses as forums for free thought and intellectual engagement.”
    Then they ought to revolt. They can stand by and be wussies and unworthy heirs to the legacy of free speech or they can stand up in a thousand different ways to this tyranny of the Left. It’s their world in a few years, let’s see what we’ve taught them and what they’ll accept. Welcome to the feminized male – afraid to speak, afraid to challenge, afraid to be free. Either we reach the F ’em stage or we get the “Got F’ed” stage.

    1. Agreed – I don’t know where the backbone went, but it isn’t that difficult to say no. Today’s kids have been so neglected intellectually at home that they don’t realize thatr is even a choice they can make. The concept of ‘choice’ itself is foreign to them.

      1. James says:

        “The concept of ‘choice’ itself is foreign to them.”

        No wonder. The Right has championed the taking away of ‘choice’ when it comes to abortion.

        1. A small, fringe that gets way too much attention issue that activists on the extremes of both aisles thinks is actually important. Don’t care one way or the other.

        2. “No wonder. The Right has championed the taking away of ‘choice’ when it comes to abortion.”
          Oh, there’s choice to be sure but only one woman — the one on the outside — gets to make it half the time. If you’re an “inside man,” forget it. It’s the feminine prerogative we’re told as if a tango is a pas seul.

  16. How sad.

    The tail is most definitely wagging the dog here. One of them needs to yell stop. Can’t be us – has to be them

  17. Facts are irrefutable. The leftist agenda is being implemented in secrecy. The agenda fails when exposed to sunlight.
    The strange thing, not a soul on the left can defend their position. Hence the elimination of debate.

    1. It’s being implemented out in the open. Folks that do not have kids in school do not pay attention because it is not a part of their daily reality. It has finally begun to be one, note the situation in Virginia, but it could have been stopped long before these extremes if anyone cared a whit whatsoever back then. They did not. Now we have a legitimate uphill battle on our hands. The fault of a lot of this lies largely on the homes in which children were raised to begin with.

    2. Iowan2 says:

      “Hence, the elimination of debate”

      You mean like banning the teaching of CRT?

      1. I have been told repeatedly that CRT is ONLY a college level elective course. Even a retard would know that.

        1. Iowan2,

          “ I have been told repeatedly that CRT is ONLY a college level elective course. Even a retard would know that.”

          You’ve been told, but that’s it what is being argued in school board meetings.

          CRT is being used as a proxy to censoring things parents don’t want their children to learn or know because it is…”uncomfortable” of “feel” guilty. You know, snowflake stuff.

          Legislatures are deliberately chilling debate on the subject by making ANYTHING that seems racist or implies some some alleged responsibility for the actions of others in the past by threat of punishment or threatening jobs.

          That’s clearly the kind of “attacks on free speech” Turley should be writing about given that it’s a direct violation of his cherished free speech philosophy.

          I suspect he isn’t mentioning it because it involves conservatives and republicans who are doing the attacks on free speech.

          1. Sevvy:

            “Legislatures are deliberately chilling debate on the subject by making ANYTHING that seems racist or implies some some alleged responsibility for the actions of others in the past by threat of punishment or threatening jobs.”
            I’m sure you are equally passionate about teaching Aryan Supremacy, Scientific Racism, White Supremacy, Master Race Theory and Eugenics to kindergarteners – or do you only like indoctrination to move in one direction: Left? As Morgan Freeman says “if you wanna stop racism quit talking about racism.”

            However, I want you Leftists to keep up the good work of formulating a generational shift in the American mind to reject your anti-human nature and frankly stupid ideas. According to the newest Harvard-Harris poll it’s already happening. Bravo, you guys are bailing the ocean into your dinghy. Glug, glug, glug!


      2. jeffsilberman: There are many on the right who would welcome the chance to debate anyone on the left about CRT, but as many on this blog have noted, the left runs from debate. Antifa just shut down debate at Dartmouth, and that’s not the first time. So don’t use CRT as your “but, but, but….” Conservatives have clearly stated that they aren’t opposed to it as ONE idea among others, but when the left censors all others and insists on only one “correct” view, then debate is blocked.

        1. Dartmouth is my Alma Mater. Send me the link. I’m surprised that Turley has not mentioned it. I was a classmate of Dinesh D’Souza. He was a liar then as now.

          You say: “Conservatives have clearly stated that they aren’t opposed to it as ONE idea among others, but when the left censors all others and insists on only one “correct” view, then debate is blocked.”


  18. Lefties must be so proud.

    They are dominating young people at the cost of destroying American traditions.

    And there in a nutshell is the Lefty ethos.

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