What We're Reading Now: New Report on College Students and Freedom of Speech

New Report from CollegePulse via the Knight Foundation on College Students and Freedom of Speech

“There is a new class of students on college campuses, increasingly varied in background and ideology, who are grappling with the reach and limits of free speech and what it means in the 21st century. Studying their views is key to understanding the impact that they may have on rights that are fundamental to our democracy,” said Sam Gill, Knight Foundation vice president for learning and communities.”

Other key findings include:

Opinions on whether it’s more important to promote an inclusive society that welcomes diverse groups or to protect free speech are sharply divided by gender, race and religion.

  • Nearly six in 10 college women say that promoting an inclusive society is the more important value, versus 28 percent of college men. Seventy-one percent of college men favor protecting free speech over inclusivity, while only 41 percent of college women express this view.

  • Black college students are more likely than students of other racial and ethnic backgrounds to say that inclusivity is a more important value than free speech. More than six in 10 black college students agree that promoting an inclusive society that welcomes diverse groups is more important than protecting free speech. Forty-nine percent of Hispanic students and 42 percent of white students hold the same view. 

  • A majority of white (58 percent) students and half (50 percent) of Hispanic students say that protecting free speech rights should be the higher priority.

  • A majority of Mormon (81 percent), white evangelical Protestant (71 percent), white mainline Protestant (64 percent), and Catholic students (62 percent) say that protecting free speech is more important than promoting inclusivity. In contrast, a majority of Jewish students (65 percent), students who are members of East Asian religions such as Hinduism or Buddhism (60 percent), and religiously unaffiliated students (54 percent) say that promoting a welcoming, inclusive society is more important.