A new survey of students at the University of Wisconsin found that almost sixty percent of students are afraid to share their opinions in class due to the intolerance on campuses today. It is only the latest such poll on how the orthodoxy and intolerance of higher education is having a chilling effect on student speech and class discussions. Notably, this is almost identical to earlier polling at other schools.
UW-Stout’s Menard Center for Public Policy and Service conducted the survey.
The survey asked students if there have been times when they have wanted to express their thoughts in class but decided to remain silent. Almost 57% of respondents said yes. Thirty-one percent said that they feared that a complaint might be filed against them for expressing their views.
Another 37% said that they felt pressured by an instructor to agree with a specific viewpoint.
Liberal writers like Above the Law editor Joe Patrice have previously ridiculed students who fear speaking in class, dismissing the overwhelming majority in these polls as students who are “just… conservatives being sad that everyone else makes fun of them.” (Previously, Patrice defended “predominantly liberal faculties” and argued that hiring a conservative professor is akin to allowing a believer in geocentrism to teach).
These polls are an indictment of the entire teaching academy. We have converted our universities into echo chambers reflecting overwhelmingly (and sometimes virtually exclusively) liberal faculties. When these polls are raised, faculty often shrug off the concern for free speech and the complaints of rising viewpoint intolerance. It simply does not seem to matter that the vast majority of our students are consistently polling as being afraid to speak openly in classes.
This latest poll comes as states are moving to use the power of the purse to force greater choice in education and diversity on faculties. This is a state school system and the legislature has every reason to seek measures to address the lack of intellectual diversity and tolerance on campuses or reduce the level of state funding for these schools.