Thanks to the largest data set ever compiled on student’s views toward free speech, we now know that students who attend the nation’s elite schools – those that purportedly thrive in the world of research, innovation and discovery – are actually more likely to try to cancel speech than their peers who attend lower-ranked educational institutions.
New data from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), RealClearEducation, and research firm College Pulse provide empirical insight into this issue. The just-released survey captures the voices of over 37,000 students at 159 colleges, and finds free speech on campuses in a dire state, painting a picture of college life in which shouting down speakers, limiting others from hearing diverse viewpoints, and even the use of violence to prevent speech are viewed as acceptable by many students.
Nationally, two-thirds of students believe there are cases where shouting down a speaker can be justified. This number is even higher at the nation’s elite schools. Looking at the top 20 colleges and universities ranked according to US News, which includes schools like Yale and Middlebury, close to three-quarters (72%) of students at such schools say there are cases in which trying to disrupt a speaker is justifiable. At schools ranked below 100, such as Texas Tech and the University of Central Florida, the number drops to 62%.