Featured Opinion

George Mason Univ.: Survey on Free Speech on College Campuses

By Bradley Jackson, PhD.

Too often lately, we’ve heard reports of colleges and universities not living up to their duty to protect free speech on campus: speakers are shouted down or disinvited, just for having opinions outside the current campus orthodoxy.

The Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) is taking concrete, positive steps to solve these problems, and we need your help to ensure that free speech, open inquiry, and intellectual diversity thrive on campuses around the country.

As we build our efforts on campuses, we need to discern how Americans view the free speech controversies rifling them.

Will you take a moment to fill out a survey on free speech and open inquiry on campuses?

Free Speech is one of the foundational ideas of our nation—its principles were first explained by men like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. It’s no accident these two men went on to found a university.

Our founders knew that higher education was key to a free and enlightened citizenry. Today, universities must live up to their higher purpose.

Too often these days, America’s young adults are choosing censorship and intimidation over a free exchange of ideas.

Last year we published A Framework for Campus Free Speech Policy, a guidebook for campus leaders who wish to frame speech policies that live up to the principles of the First Amendment.

A recent effort is one of our biggest yet: the Open Inquiry Project—a website dedicated to campus free speech. It features resources for those who wish to learn more about free speech and to act as principled defenders of our intellectual tradition on campuses.

We are optimistic that we can move the needle. There are still tens of thousands of students, professors, and administrators who want to protect free speech on campus—they only need support to help open inquiry thrive on campus again.

IHS has a broad network of freedom-friendly faculty who, as agents of change, have influence and credibility to provide the intellectual grounding upon which a free and open society depends.

Because you and I both know: the ideas of liberty and limited government and free enterprise, the classical liberal ideas of the American Founding, need to live on for a new generation.

But, as I said, in order to make the most of this program, all of us here at the Institute for Humane Studies are counting on your input first—so we can specifically tailor our approach to reach more Americans on college campuses than ever before.

With your help, we can ensure that campuses across the country remain places where ideas are debated and discussed without fear.

Take the survey now


[Below are the four questions found on the survey.]

1. Respect for the freedom of speech has gotten worse in recent years.

Strongly AgreeSomewhat AgreeNeither Agree nor DisagreeSomewhat DisagreeStrongly Disagree

2. The First Amendment gives a person the constitutional right to say something offensive—including “hate speech”—even if someone disagrees with what they’re saying.

Strongly AgreeSomewhat AgreeNeither Agree nor DisagreeSomewhat DisagreeStrongly Disagree

3. I often feel uncomfortable discussing my political views in a public setting if I know someone may disagree with me.

Strongly AgreeSomewhat AgreeNeither Agree nor DisagreeSomewhat DisagreeStrongly Disagree

4. In the future, I predict that my right to freedom of speech will be increasingly chiseled away.

Strongly AgreeSomewhat AgreeNeither Agree nor DisagreeSomewhat DisagreeStrongly Disagree


About the author

Frank Parlato

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