Study: Most College Students Say Campus Climate Prevents Them from Expressing Views

a college class
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A recent study found that most college students say that the political and social climate on their college campuses prevents students from expressing their true beliefs. The study reveals that more than two-thirds of college students admitted that campus culture causes students to self-censor over the concern that their classmates could find their views “offensive.”

“College students largely agree that the political and social climate on college campuses prevents some students from saying what they really believe because they’re afraid of offending their classmates,” says a recent study conducted by the Knight Foundation and College Pulse.

The study found that 68 percent of American college students say “the climate on my campus prevents some people from saying things they believe because others might find them offensive,” while roughly 31 percent disagree. The study also notes that students in agreement with this statement have “increased modestly over the last 12 months.”

“In 2017, more than six in 10 college students said that a desire to avoid offending their classmates prevented students from expressing their views,” says the study. “Nearly three-quarters of male college students and close to two-thirds of female college students say the climate at their school prevents some students from expressing their views.”

“However, fewer than half (43 percent) of nonbinary college students agree,” the study adds, “At least six in 10 API (74 percent), white (69 percent), Hispanic (66 percent), and black (61 percent) students say that concern about offending their classmates prevents some students from expressing their opinions.”

It was also noted that college students generally agree “hate speech” should be protected under the First Amendment — as it is already — but that there are deep divisions among students by “race, political affiliation, gender and sexual orientation” on campus, with regards to this issue.

“There are similar divisions along political lines,” says the study, noting that Democrat students are more likely to favor “inclusivity” over free speech protections, while “Republican students feel the opposite.”

The Knight Foundation study also noted a separate Gallup poll displaying similar results.

A Gallup poll released last year showed that only one-third of college graduates said they “strongly agree” that they “felt very comfortable sharing ideas or opinions in class that were probably only held by a minority of people.”

Moreover, Gallup noted that graduates’ perception on this particular issue is linked “to their attitude toward their alma mater,” adding that the majority of graduates who admitted to feeling uncomfortable about sharing their minority opinions in class are more than twice as likely “to be emotionally attached to their university.”

Gallup added that this is important for universities and advancement offices in particular, as “graduates who are emotionally attached to their alma mater are more likely to be active alumni and donate back to their school.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, on Parler at @alana, and on Instagram.

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