For as long as they have existed, colleges, universities, and institutions of higher education were intended to be sanctuaries for free thought and speech.
Such institutions were meant to challenge what you thought you knew, to teach you to respect and embrace the views of others, and to push the boundaries of the status quo through debate and knowledge.
The formula is simple: Bring together eager minds with clashing ideologies and eventually compromise through respectful debate will bring about great ideas. As the saying goes, “friction creates fire.”
This idea for what should be practiced at higher education institutions stretches all the way back to 387 BC when Plato founded the Platonic Academy in Athens, Greece. Skepticism was a main tenant of this academy, where pupils were encouraged to challenge things that had always been interpreted as truth.
Somewhere along the way, this idea for what college should be - a haven for free speech and unique beliefs - was forgotten. For example, President Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan was forced to end a speaking event at the University of Pennsylvania after protesters, who disagreed with his policy on Middle East drone strikes, disrupted the lecture.
A new poll commissioned by LendEDU revealed how college students from both sides of the political spectrum feel about allowing guest speakers with opposing viewpoints on their respective campuses.
And, the results only confirm that the original intentions of institutions of higher learning have been lost to time.
More Conservative Students Favor Banning Liberal Speakers Than Do Liberal Students That Favor Banning Conservatives
LendEDU asked 775 current college students that have identified as “conservatives” the following question: “Do you think liberal speakers should be banned from speaking on college campuses?”
17.4 percent of self-identified “conservative” college students believe that liberal speakers should be banned from speaking on their respective college campus. Meanwhile, 82.6 percent do not believe in such a ban.
How did these results stack up to what self-identified “liberal” college students thought about banning speakers with opposing ideologies?
We asked 775 current college students that have self-identified themselves as “liberals” to answer this question: “Do you think conservative speakers should be banned from speaking on college campuses?”
For this question, 13.1 percent of the self-identified “liberal” college students believed in implementing a ban on conservative speakers on their university campus. Contrarily, 86.9 percent believed that opposition speakers should not be banned.
More self-identified “conservative” college students that responded to this poll supported a ban of speakers with different ideologies than did self-identified “liberal” students by a margin of 4.3 percent.
Ideally, both polls should have resulted in a percentage at or right around zero when participants were asked if they believed in a ban of speakers with beliefs that run opposite to theirs. The great concern being that college students in the U.S. will never learn how to appreciate and accept opposing ideologies, which in turn will leave them unprepared for life after college.
This poll was commissioned by LendEDU and was conducted by online polling company Whatsgoodly. In total, 775 current college students were polled for each question. For the first question, only current college students who self-identified as "conservative" were allowed to answer. For the second question, only current college students who self-identified as "liberal" were allowed to answer. This poll was conducted from July 14th, 2017 to August 4th, 2017. The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that there are 20.5 million current college students in the United States. We estimate that our sample size for each question is representative of the population of college students within a margin of error of +-3.52%.