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One in three students say freedom of expression on campus is under threat and open debate is compromised

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One in three students say freedom of expression on campus is under threat and open debate is compromised

  • A third of college students say freedom of speech is under attack on campus, study finds
  • This is a significant increase from 20 percent who said that three years ago
  • 41 percent think academics teaching ‘offensive’ content should be fired

A third of college students say freedom of expression on campus is “threatened” and many are experiencing a “chilling effect” that discourages open debate, a study finds.

Researchers from King’s College London found that 34 percent now feel this way – up from 23 percent in 2019.

In addition, 32 percent of students feel that academic freedom at their institution is under threat, compared to 20 percent three years ago.

The findings come after a series of incidents in which speakers were banned from campuses and academics were bullied for their jobs.

Last year, Kathleen Stock was kicked out of her role at Sussex University by activists for questioning transgender ideology.

Incredibly, 41 percent of students believe that academics who teach material that offend some students should be fired.

A survey found that 32 percent of students feel that academic freedom in their institution is under threat. Pictured: University of Cambridge

And 39 percent think sororities should ban all speakers who could cause offense.

The King’s Policy Institute study of more than 2,500 students also found that there is a “growing picture” of cases where freedom of expression has been violated.

A quarter of students now say they often hear about incidents at their university where free speech has been hindered – compared to 12 percent in 2019.

Nearly half — 48 percent — said controversial speakers at their university were shunned because it was difficult to agree on those events — a 37 percent increase. And 49 percent think universities are becoming less tolerant of a range of points of view.

The belief that ideological tolerance is declining in higher education is much more common among conservative-minded students – 65 percent – than among Labor – 37 percent.

Kathleen Stock was ousted from her role at the University of Sussex by activists last year for questioning transgender ideology

Kathleen Stock was ousted from her role at the University of Sussex by activists last year for questioning transgender ideology

But the study authors said the perception of a “shivering effect” on speech is increasing for both right-wing and left-wing voters.

Half of college students now feel those with conservative views are reluctant to express them in college, compared to 37 percent who said the same in 2019.

For the left winger, that was 36 percent, compared to 14 percent.

Overall, 51 percent of all students now believe that the climate in their university prevents people from saying things because they might offend others.

Self-censorship among students was especially pronounced when it came to important controversial topics.

A third have withheld their views on gender identity, while a quarter have held back on the British Empire, fearing what others would think of them.

A fifth held back out of concern for their safety when speaking openly. Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute, said: “This major new study reveals two main patterns: first, that the vast majority of college students believe their universities protect their freedom of expression, but second, that increasing minority of students feel have it under pressure. threat and have heard examples of obstructed freedom of expression.”

 

 

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