We have often discussed complaints from conservative, libertarian, and other groups about the rising intolerance for opposing views in the University of Wisconsin System. That has ranged from controversies over attacks on student columnists to speech codes. Now, a survey of students to gauge their views on free speech has been postponed. Faculty and students have objected that such a survey is unwarranted and might be used by the legislature to take action against the various universities in the system.
The survey has caused faculty and administrators to go into seemingly unhinged panic. The Interim Chancellor of UW-Whitewater Jim Henderson resigned in opposition to the survey asking his students whether they felt that they could speak freely on campus. He said that he felt the survey showed a lack of “collaboration” with faculty.
UW System interim president Mike Falbo said that he initially decided to block the System’s participation in the survey due to opposition from chancellors weeks ago, but then the survey’s authors raised their own objections and he relented.
The Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service sought to conduct the survey with funds from UW-Stout’s Menard Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation. The survey asked students about self-censorship, opinions toward viewpoint diversity, campus climate, knowledge of the First Amendment and fears over expressing oneself.
Such surveys have been conducted at other schools and found that most students feel chilled in their exercise of free speech due to the hostile environment created on many campuses. That sense is far greater among Republican and conservative students than Democratic and liberal students. Most students tend to poll as being more liberal and their views are aligned with those of the faculty and administrators at most schools.
A recent poll found that 65 percent of students feel that they cannot speak freely on campuses. Another 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.
In a relatively short time, faculty and administrators have destroyed the status of campuses as bastions of free speech. Students now expect less freedom of speech in higher education where a new orthodoxy and speech intolerance has taken hold.
Rather than address such hostile environments, some at Wisconsin have an easier solution: just don’t ask the students.
They have succeeded to a degree in postponing the survey as many continue to try to block it entirely.
Former Wisconsin Law Professor Ann Althouse has objected that Wisconsin is now “censoring the censorship survey.”
Some of the arguments against the survey do seem transparent and opportunistic. For example, one objection to the survey was raised by Tyler Katzenberger, press secretary of Associated Students of Madison (ASM) who said that ASM challenged the legitimacy of the survey because it received an exemption from UW-Stout’s institutional review board. That board is tasked with the protection of human research subjects.
However, the Capital Times reports that Eric Giordano, executive director of the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service, “said in a statement that representatives from most other campus institutional review boards (IRBs) also ‘reviewed the project and determined that the research did not qualify as human subjects research.'”
Katzenberger also objected that free speech is being given greater attention than “diversity issues” in the system:
“We get what the survey’s trying to address and we think it’s an important cause to discuss, but why is there not a survey addressing diversity issues in the System? Why are we prioritizing this over other more pressing diversity issues?”
First, any suggestion that Wisconsin has not pursued diversity issues in both studies and policies would be demonstrably untrue. Moreover, free speech is the right that allows all such issues to be raised and addressed. It is the foundation for advocacy for all issues and causes.
Second, this is not a zero-sum game where asking students about free speech means that you cannot ask about diversity issues.
Finally, and most importantly, this is about diversity. The survey is looking at whether there is a diversity of viewpoints allowed in the system or whether students feel that they are unable to express opposing or dissenting values.
Faculty objections are equally dubious. Mark Copelovitch, a UW-Madison professor of political science and public affairs, objected to the absence of an expert on public opinion research on the board. However, the advisory committee includes academics from the law school and political science department.
Copelovitch also objected that
“If you look at the survey, there is almost nothing asking about policies of universities or actual things faculty or administrators have done to restrict free speech on campus. It’s almost entirely a survey of people’s feelings.”
That’s right. It is a survey on whether students feel that they can speak freely on campus. It addresses the environment created and maintained by the faculty and administrators. If there is a feeling that students cannot speak freely on campus, the next step is to explore measures and reforms to change that environment. It is akin to asking whether students feel that they are safe or given respect on campus in terms of racial or other forms of discrimination. Would Copelovitch object that such a survey is useless because it only asks about their feelings but does not offer specific examples of intolerance?
Copelovitch is more clear about his next objection. He is quoted as saying that he “fears that the research will be used to justify new regulations at the state’s public universities, including budget cuts, because legislators may view them as ‘hotbeds of restrictions to free speech.'”
I have long been an advocate for academic freedom and I have opposed legislative measures limiting academic expression. However, Wisconsin funds these schools and has a legitimate interest in whether faculty and administrators have used those funds to limit or chill free speech. These professors demand funding from the legislature but oppose efforts to determine if they have used those funds in an abusive or biased fashion to the detriment of students.
These legislators have legitimate concerns about the future of the Wisconsin public universities if they become echo chambers for the values of faculty and administrators.
Indeed, many of us have long maintained that faculty are killing higher education in the United States with this anti-free speech movement. Conservative faculty at most schools are a shrinking minority as universities impose more intrusive speech codes and policies.
The anti-free speech movement is a death knell for our higher education, particularly at private universities, which are not directly impacted by First Amendment protections. The anti-free speech movement is making public universities the last line of defense for those struggling to preserve forums for free speech.
If this trend continues, students interested in seeking higher education without losing free speech rights may have to increasingly look to public universities like Wisconsin.
However, at Wisconsin, faculty and administrators are fighting to prevent students from being asked about the environment that they have created. There is a sense that the faculty “doth protest too much.” It is akin to a social worker coming to a home for a child welfare check only to have the parents block any efforts to speak with the children. It tends to make one more curious as to what they have to say.
34 thoughts on ““Doth Protest Too Much”? The University of Wisconsin Delays Free Speech Survey”
American Revolution free speech: Kill The Redcoats.
Let’s call the Russians The Red Coats.
They are still part Commie. Commie. Capitalists.
A charlatan always wants to cover his dirty deeds. If they allowed the student survey they would have to suffer the embarrassment brought about by the results. I guess higher education is no longer a bastion of the study of all information. It is now only the bastion of the information it wants you to see. Me thinks they have rested on their past laurels for long enough.
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Not very eager to do a survey on free speech. I would imagine a survey of this kind would unmask those pushing students into counter free speech behavior = The Teaching Administration?
Too much risk of it exposing that some students consider themselves to have identities as individuals rather than only as part of the State.
What are they afraid of releasing the polling data?
That their tolerant, all inclusive campus is intolerant and not inclusive as they claim to be?
Mr Silberman jumps to a conclusion and expounds on it and yet the data of the study has not even been collected yet or published. That is sort of a reversal of the scientific method. Why not wait and see what the study shows and then reach conclusions. I think that even in the legal world you look for evidence first and then base your conclusions and action on the evidence and material you have uncovered. Is not that what juries also do. We are awash in polls year round anymore and I seriously doubt whether the students will start fainting or collapsing at the mere thought of taking a poll. It’s information. Look at the structure of the polling, the questions, and then how the data is interpreted. No doubt polling can be slanted, just like scientific data in reputable journals. But you have to see the data first otherwise it’s all bluster and conjecture. And if it’s a public university, as the professor says, they have to be accountable. If faculty start refusing to be accountable then things like tenure might become a thing of the past.
Last I checked students are already being polled about the efficacy of classes and faculty that teach them.
Every single medical entity I know of polls large numbers of patients on a regular basis and then each physician or advanced provider gets the data applicable to themself. It can be illuminating, horrifying, funny, satisfying, frightening. Not to mention polls of physicians placed on the internet on a regular basis. A physician’s job or pay can suffer because of those polls or you do well and get rewarded. Patient Satisfaction Surveys. A fact of life in medicine for years.
Same deal different day. JeffSilberman tells us each and every day that he does no believe in free speech. JeffSilberman is just a progressive who’s totalitarian desires are just trying to come out. I must stand corrected. Jeffs totalitarian desires are not just trying to get out but leap forth in full bloom every day. In every totalitarian society there are people like Jeff who wish for an iron fist to be planted on the mouths of those who wish to speak freely. We’ve seen you before Jeff. Jeff is on one side of the coin and the proud boys are on the other.
“JeffSilberman tells us each and every day that he does no believe in free speech. JeffSilberman is just a progressive who’s totalitarian desires are just trying to come out.”
Instead of attacking me, why don’t you attack my argument for a change:
“Religious Conservatives who, for example, believe in Creationism are going to feel uncomfortable when their beliefs are challenged by science. Professors are not going to accommodate their faith-based views by pretending that Evolution is just an “alternative fact.” Trumpists too are going to have a tough time in college if they continue to claim that the election was rigged. Visiting Professor Bill Barr will tell them to their face that their views are “bullsh*t.”
Your arguments fall flat on their own. That only leaves attacking the excrement.
I believe the the first major clampdown on Free Speech started in U.W. Madison introduced by Donna Shalala in the nineties, yes the same who served in the Clinton admin.
This makes twice in a week where we see the asinine hypocrisy and moronic irony of the left. First we had the Conference on Disinformation at the University of Chicago where the “Best and the Brightest” such as Anne Applebaum, Brian Stelter, Jonah Goldberg and Barack Obama tell us that either “disinformation” must be stopped, there is no disinformation or it is only the right that uses disinformation and therefore must be stopped and now we have a survey on how students feel about being able to express themselves bein suppressed because of …something.
Don’t forget that it is the left that told us that Trump colluded with Russia when it was Clinton, the left told us that Trump should be impeached due to a quid pro quo with the Ukraine when we had Biden telling (bragging, as Biden is wont to do) us about his quid pro quo and we had to sit through the left telling us how awful the Republicans have been to their SCOTUS nominee after we can ALMOST remember two years ago and the Kavanaugh hearings.
“the Capital Times reports that Eric Giordano, executive director of the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service, “said in a statement that representatives from most other campus institutional review boards (IRBs) also ‘reviewed the project and determined that the research did not qualify as human subjects research.’””
Mr. Giordano may have said this, but I doubt that that’s what the IRBs found. Rather, what they likely found is that it’s human subjects research that’s exempt from review because the data are limited to anonymous survey data.
The relevant regulation is 45 CFR 46, which notes “the following categories of human subjects research are exempt from this policy … (2) Research that only includes … survey procedures … if at least one of the following criteria is met: (i) The information obtained is recorded by the investigator in such a manner that the identity of the human subjects cannot readily be ascertained, directly or through identifiers linked to the subjects. …”
“Mark Copelovitch, a UW-Madison professor of political science and public affairs, objected to the absence of an expert on public opinion research on the board.”
Turley doesn’t say what board he’s talking about (the IRB? the WIPPS advisory board? …).
““If you look at the survey, there is almost nothing asking about policies of universities or actual things faculty or administrators have done to restrict free speech on campus. It’s almost entirely a survey of people’s feelings.” That’s right. It is a survey on whether students feel that they can speak freely on campus. It addresses the environment created and maintained by the faculty and administrators.”
Except the complaint is that the survey does *not* “address the environment created and maintained by the faculty and administrators.” Responses might instead reflect the environment created by other students. Any well-designed survey would attempt to distinguish between these and assess both.
“If there is a feeling that students cannot speak freely on campus, the next step is to explore measures and reforms to change that environment.”
If that’s the goal, then the survey should gather data about what policies and faculty/admin actions have influenced the students’ feelings. If you don’t gather that data, you’re flying blind about what to change.
Lots of words, what is your point?
Imagine the uproar if the liberal/left desired to conduct the study and the conservative/right raised objections.
Your feelings are hurt? Get over it. You have a right to your opinion but you do not have a right to silence mine.
Too many forget that free speech does not exist in the PRC, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Cuba. In those and other similar countries failure to follow the party line lands one in prison subject to abuse and torture. Never take the right to speech for granted, your fellow citizens have served and died to preserve your right to speak freely.
“Such surveys have been conducted at other schools and found that most students feel chilled in their exercise of free speech due to the hostile environment created on many campuses.“
If you take a survey of pro-abortion advocates and closet atheists at Hillsdale College, they would report undoubtedly that they feel chilled in their exercise of free speech due to the hostile environment on account of the fundamentalist religious beliefs of the majority of students and faculty.
“That sense is far greater among Republican and conservative students than Democratic and liberal students. Most students tend to poll as being more liberal and their views are aligned with those of the faculty and administrators at most schools.”
Religious Conservatives who, for example, believe in Creationism are going to feel uncomfortable when their beliefs are challenged by science. Professors are not going to accommodate their faith-based views by pretending that Evolution is just an “alternative fact.” Trumpists too are going to have a tough time in college if they continue to claim that the election was rigged. Visiting Professor Bill Barr will tell them to their face that their views are “bullsh*t.”
“If you take a survey of pro-abortion advocates and closet atheists at Hillsdale College, they would report undoubtedly that they feel chilled in their exercise of free speech due to the hostile environment on account of the fundamentalist religious beliefs of the majority of students and faculty.”
You know nothing about Hillsdale while you troll this blog. You intend to spur up hate and then tell others you are a peace-loving guy.
If you can’t tell the difference between a private institution and one funded with public money, you are beyond help.
Sorry, the cat walked across the keyboard while I was getting coffee and I didn’t realize she posted for me!
If you can’t tell the difference between a privately funded school and one funded with public tax dollars you are beyond help.
While we’re on the topic of the “rigged election”, it turns out that Team Trump, including Trump, Jr. and Meadows, were circulating their plot to overturn the election TWO DAYS after Election Day, BEFORE all of the votes were even finally tabulated or Biden was declared the winner. Their plot was carried out just as it was put forth: begin lying about the “victory” being “stolen”, pressure local election officials, appoint a slate of “alternate electors” in swing states, claiming the right to award Electoral College votes to Trump even though he lost. The post I saw even claimed that they believed they held the power to control how the results would go down. If anyone tried to “rig” the election, it was Trump, who knew he was in trouble and couldn’t legitimately win due to the polls and his consistent low approval ratings.
The question is: are the Republicans going to let him get away with this or are they going to stand up for our Constitution and the institution of democracy? You Trumpsters better pay attention to what is happening in the French elections: Putin is trying to manipulate the results there, too, pushing for a pro-Putin candidate who will try to weaken NATO.
The question is whether Turley will mention these just released texts between Trump, Jr., and Meadows since they reinforce Judge Carter’s opinion that Team Trump effectively were engaged in a “coup in search of a legal theory.”
You are not a true believer or else you would have jumped off of the Golden Gate Bridge in exchange for one convert. You had your chance to show us how ardent you are in your regurgitations on here. Now we know you dont even swallow them. Predictable
Do I have to email Turley to get a ruling on whether posts urging someone to commit suicide violates the blog’s civility rule?
“If anyone tried to ‘rig’ the election, it was” the MSM, social media companies, the Left’s impeachment hoaxes, and Zuckerberg (with his “Zuckerbucks”) colluding with election officials.
There. Fixed it for you.
I thought that this column had to be a Babylon Bee parody.
Nobody would be that dishonest or that stupid.
Unfortunately, lefties easily clear both hurdles.
“If there is a feeling that students cannot speak freely on campus, the next step is to explore measures and reforms to change that environment.”
A bunch of Conservative snowflakes, if you ask me. They should stop whining and grow a pair!
“It is akin to asking whether students feel that they are safe or given respect on campus in terms of racial or other forms of discrimination.”
Conservatives are asking for their very own safe spaces now? I guess if you can’t beat Liberals, join ‘em!
“They should stop whining and grow a pair!”
Jeff, something is wrong with you, or you live in a vacuum. At UC, your friendly leftists started burning down a building and threatened the conservative speaker’s life along with threatening others. Swat teams had to be called in to place a bulletproof vest on the conservative speaker before escorting him out of the building and take away to safety.
You are asking for conservatives to grow a pair and literally fight fire with fire, carry guns, and shoot those that threaten them.
You are not an intelligent person. Nor are you nice.
I wouldn’t call a demand and expectation of an environment of the free and open exchange if ideas and debate a “safe space”. The only Snowflakes I see are the students and their fellow travelers who refuse to tolerate any debate or dissent.
“I wouldn’t call a demand and expectation of an environment of the free and open exchange if ideas and debate a “safe space”.
I would. Conservatives are not threatened with sanctions or expulsions for standing up in class and speaking their minds. They just complain about *feeling uncomfortable* in a Liberal environment because their views are outnumbered. Well, if a Conservative is, say, a Birther, what does he expect when he shares that view to a classroom of intelligent students?
Conservatives are demanding no pushback on their irrational beliefs. Ain’t gonna happen. If they can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.
Nobody asked you. Your opinion is valueless.
Linkedin does not allow free speech if it differs from the 9/11 Official story. They call truth misinformation/misleading – but a plane crashing into a building and exiting on the other side ISN’T?
The survey has caused faculty and administrators to go into seems almost unhinged panic. The Interim Chancellor of UW-Whitewater Jim Henderson resigned in opposition to the survey asking his students whether they felt that they could speak freely on campus. He said that he felt the survey showed a lack of “collaboration” with faculty.
Resign rather that be held accountable.
I used to spent a couple of weeks guiding new offices into our corporate structure when we bought a business. The last one i helped with. We lost 6 people in two days. Our corporate structure centers around accountability. These people had never been held accountable, and were terrified of the possibilities.
Sprec frei. Forever hold your piece. Aim it at those who tell you to shut up. Then pee at them when your aim is good.
Nicely done Professor. Thanks.
Statists start your deflections, now