Notable & Quotable: Unfree Speech on Campus

Wall Street Journal, October 22, 2015

Williams College (Tuition and fees: $63,290) has undertaken an “Uncomfortable Learning” Speaker Series in order to provide intellectual diversity on a campus where (like most campuses) left-leaning sentiment prevails. What a good idea! How is it working out? The conservative writer Suzanne Venker was invited to speak in this series. But when word got out that an alternative point of view might be coming to Williams, angry students demanded her invitation be rescinded. It was. Explaining their decision, her hosts noted that the prospect of her visit was “stirring a lot of angry reactions among students on campus.” {snip}

To put some numbers behind that perception [that students are hostile to free speech], The William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale recently commissioned a survey from McLaughlin & Associates about attitudes towards free speech on campus. Some 800 students at a variety of colleges across the country were surveyed. The results, though not surprising, are nevertheless alarming. By a margin of 51 percent to 36 percent, students favor their school having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty. Sixty-three percent favor requiring professors to employ “trigger warnings” to alert students to material that might be discomfiting. One-third of the students polled could not identify the First Amendment as the part of the Constitution that dealt with free speech. Thirty-five percent said that the First Amendment does not protect “hate speech,” while 30 percent of self-identified liberal students say the First Amendment is outdated. {snip}

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