Fernando Fernández/Contributing Writer
Throughout the last couple of years, a myth has floated around political circles (specifically, those on the right flank of the political spectrum) that college campuses are imposing liberalism on students.
Such beliefs have fueled the rise of youth-centered conservative organizations such as Turning Point USA, which perpetuates the notion that college campuses institutionally discriminate against conservative students for their political beliefs. They even have their own “Professor Watchlist,” which lists professors whom they allege to discriminate against conservative students and push the “liberal/left-wing agenda.”
There is a problem with that notion, though – it’s not true.
Now, it is true that many college students tend to be liberal. Among a sample of 7,000 undergraduate students, “48% viewed liberals more favorably in their second year of college than when they arrived on campus,” according to a recent national study of college students called IDEALS. However, the same study also found that, “among the same students, 50% viewed conservatives more favorably.”
If anything, based on this study, there are more college students with a favorable view of conservatism than liberalism in general.
Furthermore, a recent data analysis study conducted by the director of Georgetown University’s Free Speech Project, found that instances of free-speech crackdowns on college campuses are rare. The study catalogued “more than 90 incidents since 2016 that fit their criteria for a person’s free speech rights being threatened,” about two-thirds of which took place on college campuses. The incidents “range from a speaker being disinvited to a faculty member being fired over allegedly offensive comments to a student-run play being canceled over concerns it would offend.”
As an article from Vox examining this study accurately points out, the fact that a mere 60 incidents have occurred in the past couple of years suggest that free-speech crackdowns/censorship at college campuses are a very overblown thing.
If anything, once again, the data compiled by the study shows that there are more examples of left-wing speech being cracked down on than right-wing speech.
The facts simply do not support the claims of many conservatives that college campuses are overwhelmingly filled with liberal, left-wing students, and that they specifically and systematically target conservativism. Cases of crackdowns on free speech and imposition of political beliefs on college campuses are rare, and the ratio of liberal to conservative students is pretty equal, on average.
Having said that, it’s important that students at FIU, as well as those of us whom attend other colleges and universities, are aware of this, since many on-campus political (mostly conservative) organizations use said myth as a non-argument to recruit those ignorant of the facts.
Only then will we possess the adequate knowledge to make the most informed decision possible.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.
Featured photo from FIU Flickr.