Free Expression on College Campuses

On May 13, 2019, Knight Foundation released the report, “Free Expression on College Campuses.”  See the press release here and a blog post highlighting key findings here.

As college students across the United States continue to test the limits and protections of the First Amendment, a new report by College Pulse reveals that students show support for these rights, but are divided on whether it’s more important to promote an inclusive society that welcomes diverse groups or to protect the extremes of free speech. Opinions sharply diverge by gender, race, sexual orientation, political affiliation and religion.

Supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the report used a mobile app and web portal to survey 4,407 full-time college students enrolled in four-year degree programs in December 2018. It builds on previous surveys of college students and their views on the First Amendment supported by Knight in 2016 and 2018.

The report showed that more than half (53 percent) of students favor protecting free speech rights, while nearly as many (46 percent) say it’s important to promote an inclusive and welcoming society. At the same time, 58 percent of students said that hate speech should continue to be protected under the First Amendment while 41 percent disagree. The report’s exploration of perceptions by race, gender, sexual orientation and religion further highlight stark differences in student views on these issues.

Read the full report below. Download the report PDF here.

For additional information, read the press release and a blog by Knight Director of Learning and Impact Evette Alexander. 

This new report is part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to promote press freedom and information access and ensure that the rights guaranteed under the First Amendment are preserved. Knight Foundation has made many investments in this area, and supported the launch of the Knight First Amendment Institute in collaboration with Columbia University. Learn more about this work here.