Civil discourse on college and university campuses has become a hot-button issue more than ever in today's political and social climate. While the waxing and waning of public opinion is part of the workings of a functional democracy, the right to freely express oneself is becoming a problem for degree-seeking students at institutions of higher education.
Unfortunately, self-censorship is now a claim of most students. Not only can this suffocate the free flow of ideas in youth, but it can cause them to become ostracized and even fall victim to false accusations at school.
Growing Collegiate Divide Causing Self-Censorship
From the opportunity to discuss challenging topics like abortion and civil rights to tolerance for campus speakers with views and opinions that go against the grain of popular college culture, there is a growing divide in civil discourse and a school's willingness to honor the free speech process.
A survey conducted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) discovered a genuine divide on college campuses across the U.S. In the largest study of campus free expression, the organization found:
- 83 percent of students report self-censoring at least some of the time
- 21 percent of students report having to self-censor often
- 66 percent of students report acceptance of campus speaker shout-downs
- 23 percent of students consider violence to halt specific speech acceptable
- Only one-third of students claim their school administration makes it clear that free speech will be protected on campus
Fleeting Concern for Free Speech Among Self-Censorship
The Chronicle on Higher Education reports that “while studies show there are more liberal than conservative students on college campuses, the proportion of moderate students far outweighs both groups. Even though many free speech concerns are drawn from the political periphery, at the University of Virginia (UVA), a senior wrote an op-ed published in The New York Times airing her concerns about her censorship concerns at school.
The student details that she attended UVA and “welcomed an environment that champions intellectual diversity” but realized her experience was fraught with “strict ideological conformity.” In her op-ed, the student explained that the negative atmosphere on campus led to students self-censoring “unpopular opinions” out of “fear” of having their grades lowered by professors and acts of aggression by fellow students.
Nevertheless, this situation is happening at schools nationwide. Many are calling for colleges and universities to combat the challenge of free speech from becoming stifled on campus through academic pushback and ostracism.
When Self-Censorship Becomes Top Priority, Contact a Student Defense Attorney
Threats to free speech are serious. Codes of conduct that seek to govern and protect students on campus are increasingly requiring that students not in any speech that not only discriminates but doesn't offend anyone. In this world of academic instability, you need a student defense advisor to assist you in protecting your future when trouble arises. “Speech codes” written to suppress free speech can upend critical inquiry and make the pursuit of knowledge fraught with potential misconduct charges.
If you're pressured toward self-censorship from your school, you need expert advice from a proven student defense attorney-advisor. Joseph D. Lento is an attorney-advisor that is no stranger to school administrators strong-arming students through the course of investigations and at disciplinary boards. Attorney Lento and his dedicated team at the Lento Law Firm understand how important free speech is and the problems of self-censorship at colleges and univerisites. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a Lento Law Firm consultation or use the online service.