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Poll: One in Five College Students Wants to Rewrite the First Amendment

Free Speech Rally
Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

According to a recently published poll, almost one in five college students believe that we need to rewrite the First Amendment because it is “outdated.” 40 percent support speech restrictions on students and faculty on campus.

A recent poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates of 800 college students revealed that an increasing number of college students believe the First Amendment needs to be re-written, likely to include a hate speech exception.

“Generally speaking, do you think the First Amendment, which deals with freedom of speech, is an outdated amendment that can no longer be applied in today’s society and should be changed or an important amendment that still needs to be followed and respected in today’s society?” the poll asked.

Approximately 17 percent of respondents said that they support a rewrite of the First Amendment. Additionally, 40 percent of respondents said that they support campus speech restrictions for students and faculty. An overwhelming 59 percent of respondents said that their college or university should censor guest speakers who have a history of “engaging in hate speech.”

And these college students aren’t necessarily different from the average American. According to a 2017 survey, Americans are largely ambivalent about free speech on college campuses.

“Americans support free expression as an abstract principle. But they also believe that even protected speech can have real costs. Perhaps the public is ambivalent or confused about the issue,” the survey’s author wrote. “But they are also responding to the complex question of campus free speech, where schools must balance two competing goals: promoting free and open exchange, and creating an environment safe for learning and development.”

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