The relationship between college students and free speech: It’s complicated.
A new Gallup survey said 72 percent of college students oppose campus restrictions on “expressing political views that are upsetting or offensive to certain groups.”
But asked whether “slurs” and other “intentionally offensive” language should be banned, and they’re all for it.
Sixty-nine percent of college students surveyed said they would be in favor of prohibiting “intentionally offensive” speech on campus, and 63 percent also said they would support administrative measures to ban “costumes that stereotype certain racial or ethnic groups.”
As the sound and the fury over the “Trump 2016” chalkings shows, there’s a gray area between political expression and intentionally offensive speech in the minds of today’s college students.
As Gallup notes, that controversy may have arisen “out of the ambiguity of whether such messages are permissible expressions of controversial political viewpoints or impermissible expressions designed to hurt and threaten members of certain groups.”
Other metrics in the survey similarly show college students hedging on their commitment to free speech – supporting it in the abstract, but wavering when specific examples are put forward.