Survey looks at evolving student views on First Amendment as UNC struggles with free speech questions

As the University of North Carolina continues to struggle with questions of free speech in the wake of a controversial new campus speech policy, a new study released this month takes a look at trends in student thought on free speech on America’s campuses.

The survey is the result of a partnership between Gallup, the Knight Foundation, the American Council on Education, the Charles Koch Institute and the Stanton Foundation. It updates information from a similar 2016 survey through input from 3,014 U.S. college students, including an “oversample” of 216 students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Among the results:

  • When asked to choose, students overwhelmingly (70 percent to 29 percent) favor an open environment over a positive one that puts limits on offensive speech. Democrats, Blacks and women are among the groups that are less supportive of an open environment than they were in 2016; Republicans still overwhelmingly favor an open environment (86 percent).
  • At the same time, students (64 percent) do not believe the U.S. Constitution should protect hate speech, and the majority (73 percent) support policies that restrict offensive slurs.
  • Students are more likely now (61 percent) than in 2016 (54 percent) to think the climate on their campus prevents people from speaking their mind because others might take offense.
  • Many colleges struggle when inviting controversial figures to speak on campus. Ninety percent of college students say it is never acceptable to use violence to prevent someone from speaking, but 10 percent say is sometimes acceptable. A majority (62 percent) also say shouting down speakers is never acceptable, although 37 percent believe it is sometimes acceptable.

Take the time to read the full results and info about methodology here:

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