Education

One in Four Students are Okay with Violence to Stop Free Speech on Campus

Written by Vincent Cain

According to the 2021 Free Speech rankings by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, almost a quarter of college students are fine with using violence to stop a speaker on campus. 

23% of students at 159 universities believed that violence is okay to stop a speaker, a massive increase from the 18% from last year’s figure. FIRE executive director Robert Shibley said, “It was 18% last year, which we thought was alarmingly high, and we find it very disturbing that number is up and is as high as it is.”

FIRE found that the country’s top-ranked schools were amongst the least tolerant of free speech. Messages sent by administrations were key in accepting free speech on campus, or more often, they would send a confusing picture of where it stood, in terms of free speech and censorship, the survey found.

23% of students at 159 universities believed that violence is okay to stop a speaker, a massive increase from the 18% from last year’s figure. FIRE executive director Robert Shibley said, “It was 18% last year, which we thought was alarmingly high, and we find it very disturbing that number is up and is as high as it is.”

FIRE found that the country’s top-ranked schools were amongst the least tolerant of free speech. Messages sent by administrations were key in accepting free speech on campus, or more often, they would send a confusing picture of where it stood, in terms of free speech and censorship, the survey found. Mr. Shibley said, “If college administrators are willing to take leadership on free speech that would be a major factor in a school’s performance.”

FIRE surveyed 37,104 students between February and May to come up with the most accurate picture that they have been able to provide of college campuses since their first similar survey in 2020.

The University of Chicago, which was last year’s leader, was beaten by Claremont-McKenna, a college in California, in terms of a climate that supports debate on topics such as race and climate, according to the survey.

Photo Cred: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune