Poll: Roughly 60 Percent of Students Fear Expressing Their Views in Higher Education

There is a new poll out and it is strikingly similar to the polls previously featured on this blog on free speech and intellectual diversity in higher education.  The Buckley annual survey found that almost 60 percent of college students fear sharing an opinion in classrooms or on campuses. That tracks other polls by different groups.  Yet, colleges and universities continue to exclude Republican and conservative faculty members and maintain environments of speech intolerance.The poll shows a sharp increase from just last year with 63% reporting feeling intimidated in sharing opinions different than their peers. That is almost identical to the 65 percent found in other polls.

The poll of over 800 students included many liberal students, as reflected in the 67 percent who would require all professors and administrators to make statements in favor of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Half of students believe “America is inextricably linked to white supremacy” and another 33 percent would prefer to live in a socialist system.

The poll tracks earlier polls showing a rising view of viewpoint intolerance that now characterizes higher education in America. That intolerance is reflected in the overwhelmingly Democratic and liberal makeup of faculties.

new survey of 65 departments in various states found that 33 do not have a single registered Republican. For these departments, the systemic elimination of Republican faculty has finally reached zero, but there is still little recognition of the crushing bias reflected in these numbers. Others, as discussed below, have defended the elimination of conservative or Republican faculty as entirely justified and commendable. Overall, registered Democrats outnumbered registered Republicans by a margin of over 10-1.

The survey found 61 Republican professors across 65 departments at seven universities while it also found 667 professors identified as Democrats based on their political party registration or voting history.

While there may be a couple professors missed on either side of this ideological divide, most faculty will privately admit that it is rare to find self-identified Republicans or conservatives on many faculties. Most faculties are overwhelmingly Democratic and liberal. Diversity generally runs from the left to the far left.

Another survey found that only nine percent of law professors identified as conservative. The virtual absence of Republican or conservative members on many faculties are just shrugged off by many academics.   It is the subject of my recent publication in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. The article entitled “Harm and Hegemony: The Decline of Free Speech in the United States.

Notably, a 2017 study found 15 percent of faculties were conservative. This is the result of years of faculty replicating their own ideological preferences and eradicating the diversity that once existed on faculties. When I began teaching in the 1980s, faculties were undeniably liberal but contained a significant number of conservative and libertarian professors. It made for a healthy and balanced intellectual environment. Today such voices are relatively rare and faculties have become political echo chambers, leaving conservatives and Republican students increasingly afraid to speak openly in class.

The trend is the result of hiring systems where conservative or libertarian scholars are often rejected as simply “insufficiently intellectually rigorous” or “not interesting” in their scholarship. This can clearly be true with individual candidates but the wholesale reduction of such scholars shows a more systemic problem. Faculty insist that there is no bias against conservatives, but the obviously falling number of conservative faculty speaks for itself.

As discussed earlier, the editors of the legal site Above the Law have repeatedly swatted down objections to the loss of free speech and viewpoint diversity in the media and academia. In a recent column, they mocked those of us who objected to the virtual absence of conservative or libertarian faculty members at law schools.

Senior editor Joe Patrice defended “predominantly liberal faculties” based on the fact that liberal views reflect real law as opposed to junk law.  (Patrice regularly calls those with opposing views “racists,” including Chief Justice John Roberts because of his objection to race-based criteria in admissions as racial discrimination). He explained that hiring a conservative academic was akin to allowing a believer in geocentrism (or that the sun orbits the earth) to teach at a university.

It is that easy. You simply declare that conservative views shared by a majority of the Supreme Court and roughly half of the population are not acceptable to be taught.

We have previously discussed the worrisome signs of a rising generation of censors in the country as leaders and writers embrace censorship and blacklisting. The latest chilling poll was released by 2021 College Free Speech Rankings after questioning a huge body of 37,000 students at 159 top-ranked U.S. colleges and universities. It found that sixty-six percent of college students think shouting down a speaker to stop them from speaking is a legitimate form of free speech.  Another 23 percent believe violence can be used to cancel a speech. That is roughly one out of four supporting violence.

This has been an issue of contention with some academics who believe that free speech includes the right to silence others.  Berkeley has been the focus of much concern over the use of a heckler’s veto on our campuses as violent protesters have succeeded in silencing speakers, including a speaker from the ACLU discussing free speech.  Both students and some faculty have maintained the position that they have a right to silence those with whom they disagree and even student newspapers have declared opposing speech to be outside of the protections of free speech.  At another University of California campus, professors actually rallied around a professor who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display.

In the meantime, academics and deans have said that there is no free speech protection for offensive or “disingenuous” speech.  CUNY Law Dean Mary Lu Bilek showed how far this trend has gone. When conservative law professor Josh Blackman was stopped from speaking about “the importance of free speech,”  Bilek insisted that disrupting the speech on free speech was free speech. (Bilek later cancelled herself and resigned after she made a single analogy to acting like a “slaveholder” as a self-criticism for failing to achieve equity and reparations for black faculty and students).

There are now a wide array of polls and surveys showing a rising sense of viewpoint intolerance and a lack of ideological diversity on faculties. When confronted, faculty often shrug and say that the students are simply wrong about speech intolerance. They also dismiss the importance of labels (even self-reported party affiliations). Few, however, seriously deny that faculties are now overwhelmingly, if not exclusive, Democratic or liberal. Intellectual diversity today on faculties often runs from the left to the far left.

I frankly do not understand why professors want to maintain this one-sided environment in hiring. I was drawn to academia by the diversity of viewpoints and intellectual challenges on campuses.  However, the lack of diversity works to the advantage of those on the “correct” side of this new orthodoxy. Conversely, those with dissenting views are often targeted or isolated on faculties. They risk the loss of everything that gives an intellectual life meaning from publishing to speaking opportunities. For faculty, the viewpoint intolerance seen by students is magnified a hundred times over for those seeking to enter or to advance in teaching.

94 thoughts on “Poll: Roughly 60 Percent of Students Fear Expressing Their Views in Higher Education”

  1. Unfortunately, once you sign your college application, you “sign your rights away,” or so the legions of higher education think. New educational requirement: Secure a shark-attorney (sharktorney?) before beginning your college career. One can never sign rights away. However, our “rights” do seem to wax and wane depending on what judge was appointed by whom. Best to bulldoze the existing (corrupt and icky) edu system and start fresh. Get rid of all the govts, too.

  2. “Half of students believe “America is inextricably linked to white supremacy”
    About that, perhaps their view was shaped by the realization that white people invented:
    The university
    Flight by balloons
    Heavier than air flight
    Steam power
    Symphony orchestras
    Electric lighting
    And on and on and on.

    Take away those creations and you are left with a loincloth and a goat skin drum to beat along the side of the dusty path to your hut.

    They should be careful. Constantly harping about white privilege or supremacy or guilt could backfire. Do we really want people focused on that crap? It has never gone well.

  3. “America is inextricably linked to white supremacy”

    it is.

    what the left wants is a chicago ghetto – specifically, you living in it and themselves governing it.

  4. I wonder why progressivism is correlated with the economic success, freedom, and happiness of countries across the world? Why are poorer, more diseased, and less successful countries more conservative? Why do conservative populations suffer from greater levels of crime and corruption?

    If you think it’s weird that the intellectual class across the world is more progressive than the rest of their respective societies, that just might be an issue with you not having the abilities that make you a part of that class.

    1. “Why do conservative populations suffer from greater levels of crime and corruption?” You can’t be serious. New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, DC, LA, Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Portland (not the one in Maine or maybe so?) are ALL poorer, more crime-ridden, and corrupt than say Bismarck, Omaha, and Huntsville because Conservatives? You need a new alias It’sObvious, because I don’t think ‘obvious’ means what you think it means.

    2. 😂 what you’re saying is the complete opposite of reality. Just look in the US alone. The vast majority of Democrat controlled cities are hell holes full of crime and poverty.

    3. I would suggest checking your facts as your claim is false. And there is massive amounts of data on this.
      Numerous studies of OECD countries, all countries, europe, the US, over recent decades, the past century, even longer have all found consistently That for each 10% of GDP that government consumes the rate of growth in standard of living declines by 1%.
      This is a huge deal as a 2% change in the rate of improvement is the difference between doubling standard of living ever 15 years and doubling it ever 40.

      But if you doubt that look at Venezeula – which went from the wealthiest country in south america to an 80% poverty rate today.

      Or look at the US under biden. Things are bad, and will get worse. The only question is how much worse.

  5. Jonathan: Here is the rest of my comment. Elon Musk has more worries than the exit of Elton John. Tesla is suspending production of Model Y in Shanghai for the rest of the year. Musk is also shifting Tesla executives to Twitter HQ–trying to shore up the loss of important people he lost when he fired over half the workforce or through resignations. Tesla shareholders are not happy Musk is not minding the store. Since Musk took over Twitter Tesla has underperformed the Nasdaq Composite by 26%. Musk is proving the principle that except for subatomic particles you can’t be in two places at the same time.

    In a marketing scam conservative commentator Bari Weiss got Musk’s permission to release the second cache of “Twitter Files”. And what big “secrets” did the second release reveal? Actually, no secrets at all. Back in 2018 Twitter publicly announced it would hide some tweets from conversations and search results–some called it “shadow banning”. So the latest release just confirms what everyone already knew. Kind of funny because on 12/2 Musk announced a new content moderation that mirrors what Twitter did 4 years ago: “Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom of reach. Negativity should & will get less reach than positivity”.

    What all have acknowledged, even you, is that Twitter’s earlier content moderation policies were not a violation of “free speech” since the platform is not a state actor. And neither is what Musk is doing to try to control what gets by his eye into the Twitter world that has caused Elton John and others to quit. Musk has realized he has bitten off more then he can chew. But if Musk cancels the Nazi lover Kanye (Ye) West what does that say about his commitment to “free speech” you claimed he would bring to Twitter? Can’t have it both ways!

    Now the second release from the “Twitter Files” also raises the issue of what is there that would back up your claim that Musk would reveal a treasure trove of docs implicating the Biden family in a “massive financial scandal and corruption”? A big nada so far. Just dick pics and other assorted porn. So, Jonathan, where is the smoking gun you promised?

    1. In what world is Barri Weis a “conservative commentator”

      There is a point at which ignorance is no longer an excuse. When you have been wrong so frequently, with no effort to correct, that it is more than reasonable to conclude that you you do not care what the truth is when you say something.

      Here is Bari Weiss’s bio


      Here is Bari Weiss’s resignation letter as the opinion page editor of the New York Times.

      Falsus in unum, falsus in omnibus.

      1. “Falsus in unum, falsus in omnibus.” This definitely applies to Trump, lies about a stolen election, slates of fake electors. Etc. He is totally fake and his acolytes are just not very smart…

        1. The Twitter files end the nonsense that the election was not stolen.
          None of that is new news. It has just changed from something we all knew, to something that is an indisputable fact.
          Worse it is an actual large scale conspiracy.

          Whether there was ballot fraud or not, the media and SM engaged in fraud, silencing conservatives and supressing anything unfavorable to biden leading up to the election. That is STEALING AN ELECTION – it may be legal, but it is certainly immoral.
          It is innarguable at this time that a conspiracy within the media, SM, Biden campaign and democrats successfully lied to the american people, and successfully hid from them the truth.

          Setting aside whether that is legal – which it likely is, is that your idea of moral ? is that who you really want to be ? Is your ideology so bankrupt that it can not win the contest of ideas ? That you can not win hearts and minds and votes without using power to silence those who disagree with you ?

          Further – so long as the left refuses to allow transparency in elections – claims of fraud are legitimate.

        2. The author of this article goes out of his way to reassure that he is not some right wing loon, claiming the 2020 Election was stolen,
          While providing all the more evidence that the 2020 election was stolen.
          Like it or not voters are pissed that our elections have been F’d up and become untrustworthy – and YOU did that.
          You supressed the Truth about Bide. You supressed the Truth about Covid, you supressed the truth about mailin voting.
          You thwarted the voice of 22million people trying to tell their legislators – do not do this stupid thing.


    2. The latest release does not confirm what we already know.

      It PROVES what those on the right have been saying and those on the right have been denying.

      That social media has actively and politically been suppressing almost exclusively conservatives for years on a very large scale.

      It proves that when those on the left have power they will use it to silence all voices that oppose them.

      It also proves that this is all an enormous conspiracy.

      That the right is correct about vast left wing nut conspiracies.

    1. Marie Joy, only genocide of those unwilling to submit, enslavement for the rest. It’s an evil ideology where everyone who believes in Communism wants to be ‘in charge’ of the enslavement of those who will not submit. Most True Believers­™ have never lived under Communism so they haven’t the first clue how individuality, including their very own life, would be destroyed by it. They aren’t the least bit interested in listening to those people who’ve been fortunate to escape it. It’s also why I promote sending every college age kid who thinks it’s swell to Venezuela, the former 4th richest country on the planet just 20 years ago, via parachute and a single change of clothes (no cell phones, either). It might be the quickest and easiest way to demonstrate they should be very careful for what they wish.

  6. Jonathan: What struck me about the Buckley survey is that 50% of university students believe “America is inextricably linked to white supremacy”. And “33% of students would prefer to live under a socialist system”. Where have we failed our kids when a third don’t think the capitalist system has served them? And a whopping 70% believe “systematic racism is a big problem in our society and white people still contribute to it”. And the latter stat includes 54% of self-described conservative students. How did you let this happen?

    The Q you have to ask yourself, Jonathan, is how your generation of conservative academics failed miserably in creating a more attractive and friendly environment for conservative views. When 67% of students think all professors and administrators should be required to sign a diversity, equity and inclusion statement you know you have lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the younger generation. What is to be done? Personally, I recommend you call for a conference of conservative academics to discuss why conservative ideas have so little appeal to students these days. I think it’s time for some serious soul searching–not blaming the problem on “viewpoint intolerance”. That dog won’t hunt any longer!

    Which brings us to other news today. Elton John just announced he is leaving Twitter. In a statement John said: “All my life I’ve tried to use music to being people together. Yet it saddens me to see misinformation is now being used to divide our world. I’ve decided no longer to use Twitter, given their recent change in policy which will allow misinformation to flourish unchecked”. Musk probably doesn’t care. He would rather give an account to the neo-Nazi Nick Fuentes to replace Elton John. Fuentes gain–our loss. A sad commentary on where Twitter is headed.

    More on Elon Musk in my next comment….

    1. Elton John may leave Twitter – his choice. Fuentes was banned by Twitter – Twitter censor’s choice. See the difference? We conservatives put up with, refute or ignore leftist talk offensive to us every day but you, Dennis McIntyre, believe that Fuentes shouldn’t be heard at all – what a hypocrite you are!

        1. You are the “People [who] are obviously sort of dumb who can’t differentiate between free speech and toxic garbage.”

    2. The reason that conservatives have failed – is because the left has shouted down and silenced everyone that voices disagreement with them.

      That is a trivial question.

      Why were Conservatives voices supressed on Twitter –

      Because those of you on the left are not willing to defend your arguments or rebut those of anyone else
      so you leveraged whatever power you have to silence those who disagree.

      At Twitter, the MSM, the rest of social media, college campuses.

      The answer to your question is because those on the left dhave no intention of debate, they can not debate.
      They have worked sucessfuly to SILENCE

    3. I like Elton John.

      But his and your nonsense about misinformation is proof of his and your intellectual stupidity.

      If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.

      -John Stuart Mill

    4. Much of what you call “misinformation” is correctly identified as “information”.

      What the effort to supress misinformation has accomplished is the elevation of the ill conceived and unfounded pronouncements of the elite over the truth.

    5. ” A conference of conservative academics.” Sure, you just have to find a phone booth to host it. It is a pretty rich accusation that conservative academics have failed to serve students when they have been hounded out of the academy for years now. I left ten years ago — involuntarily. But I now live a charmed life as a sole proprietor. No administrators, no diversity shams, no attempts at forced conformity. I was lucky to leave when I did. I miss the students. I miss the occasional intellectual exchange, but they were getting rarer with each passing year.

  7. Who would say anything in classes run by Pol Pot clones?

    I was pleased to see that some companies are no longer requiring college degrees for new hires. They won’t say it but I have seen it–too many problems from entitled and indoctrinated trash products of our failing universities.

    Maybe Elon should build an education system from 1st Grade through PhD or MD and JD.

    1. The large tech companies would do better if they hired people with 2 year degrees in computers and then trained them themselves providing them with an achievement diploma. We need people to be educated specifically for jobs that are needed, and even permit them to move from one company to the next.

      I say 2 year degrees only as a selection process, and movement from company to company for further education. We need education to be of the workplace type ,and we need the ability to let workers get more education while off duty or when given the time.

      Our expensive education system failed. The leftists killed it.

      1. S. Meyer,
        Well said and I agree.
        From what my daughter told me during her time at college, she probably could of cut a third of her classes (and expense) as they were nothing to do with her major (she finished third in her class for her under grad).
        Economist and sometimes social commentator Charles H. Smith noted that rather then accredit the institution, we should accredit the student. I would go one further and say make the student a paid intern, and have a industry standard that accredits them by the company, backed up with rigorous testing.
        Why hire a college grad who cannot even do the bare minimum, and have to train or should I say ‘educate’ them in things college was supposed to teach them?

      2. S. Meyer ,

        I agree and I suspect many who are responsible for running successful businesses are beginning to think the same way.

        1. I think Apple is training people on the job. Some of the support techs know almost nothing. They are basically reading from the Q&A, and not doing a good job of that. They first need to be taught how to think and how to look at a problem in a logical sequence. Trained engineers can do that so we need to educate them to that point and then in their job.

  8. “Half of students believe ‘America is inextricably linked to white supremacy’ . . .”

    And thus, tribalism comes to America. If you’re trying to ignite a racial civil war, keep peddling that tribalist garbage. When there’s blood in the streets, don’t then whine: “Oh, my. How did that happen?”

  9. Hum. Never had a fear of expressing myself in school, albeit I was a late bloomer who always required a lot of ‘remedial education’.

    On the contrary, I didn’t want to scare nobody! I was ‘rough as a cob’, as they say in the hills. I’m still a little shy . .. but it don’t last long.

    What are they afraid of?

    *Important update: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/sen-kyrsten-sinema-leaving-democratic-party/ar-AA155o4k?ocid=msedgntp&cvid=bc9c23219e6c4614a958034f920528de

  10. It is not just higher education, I tell my eighth grade to toe the progressive line. Then I explain why it is moronic. No point fighting the willfully ignorant. One recent example was social studies module on housing – they were against BOTH red lining and gentrification. I simply asked what were intended effects of removing red lining. Reasoning (something progressives lack) did the rest.

    One advantage of progressives remaining willfully ignorant, their arguments are pathetically weak.

  11. To the left wing administrations, definitions of diversity. You can be any race, sex or orientation you like but don’t you dare think differently.

  12. What if state legislatures were to demand change at state universities? What if we had some “affirmative action” demanded by those who are funding universities to bring diversity of thought back to faculties, to take away from administrators their authority to implement dictatorships of leftist doctrine, to bring back balance, and to eliminate the fear of expressing opinions on campuses?

    1. State legislatures aren’t going to defund universities. They will posture, and hold hearings, grill administrators, speechify. But not defund.
      The real power rests with Alumni donors. Why the biggest ones dont get together with other like minded donors and demand change is a mystery.

      1. I know why. They are most concerned about attending football and basketball games. Not saying this to be snarky, but just an observation of many conservative donors. Go Clonies / Hawks

        1. All universities should just change their mascots to “clones” and be done with it. It’s not just ISU anymore, sadly.

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