85% of Liberal Students Think Professors Should Be Reported for Offensive Comments
While most students think their professors adequately encourage diverse viewpoints in the classroom, don’t want speakers disinvited from campus, and are comfortable sharing controversial opinions, 85 percent of liberals think professors who say something offensive should be reported to the university.
That’s according to a new survey of student attitudes conducted by North Dakota State University’s Sheila and Robert Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth. Many of the results were positive: Most students—both liberals and conservatives—said their professors create environments that allow for many different viewpoints to be shared. Large majorities also opposed the rejection of controversial speakers from campus.
In general, conservative respondents were more supportive of free speech norms—and also more fearful that they would be punished for speaking up—than liberal students. But on many questions, majorities of both groups responded the way a free speech supporter would.
Probably the most concerning result was that 70 percent of students—85 percent of liberals, 41 percent of conservatives, and 65 percent of those classified as “independent/apolitical”—wanted professors reported to the administration for making offensive statements. Most students also felt this way about other students who said offensive things.
The survey does not define the word “offensive,” so it’s impossible to know what kind of speech the respondents had in mind. Professors are frequently reported for uttering ethnic slurs, though many such occurrences are misunderstandings or arguably legitimate educational uses.
Jeffrey Sachs, a lecturer at Acadia University who oc
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