Many Americans believe colleges and universities are failing to defend free speech and open inquiry on campus, as videos of student mobs shouting down speakers and undergraduates shrieking at their professors have helped to undermine popular faith in institutions of higher education.
Those viral moments, however, fail to capture the state of free expression on campus in its full nuance and complexity. To provide a more detailed look at the state of speech at American colleges and universities, RealClearEducation collaborated with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the survey-research group College Pulse on the 2020 College Free Speech Survey.
Nearly 20,000 undergraduates at 55 major American colleges and universities participated in the survey. Students were asked a series of questions, meant to gauge their own commitment to free speech and their perception of their peers’ tolerance for diverse points of view. Institutions were ranked according to student sentiment on free expression.