Intelligent.com recently surveyed 1,000 current college students to gauge the political climate on campus ahead of the midterm elections. The results revealed an interesting discrepancy among students from both ends of the political spectrum.
Despite both liberal and conservative students saying they strongly believe in free speech, the majority on both sides would choose to censor the other side’s beliefs on campus. Additionally, both sides showed a surprising willingness to censor views from their own party, indicating a desire to keep politics off campus in general.
Survey findings include:
- 98% of conservative students say free speech is important to them, while 61% would choose to censor liberal viewpoints on campus and 57% conservative views
- Similarly, 98% of liberal students say free speech is important, while 66% would choose to censor conservative viewpoints on campus and 55% liberal views
- 92% of college students say they are at least somewhat likely to vote in the midterms elections
- Conservative students rank healthcare as their top issue, while liberal students cite abortion rights
Both Conservative and Liberal Students Say Free Speech is Important, Yet Two-Thirds Would Censor the Other Side’s Views
98% of both liberal and conservative college students say free speech is ‘somewhat’ or very important to them, and close to two-thirds of each group (61% of conservatives and 66% of liberals) would choose to censor at least some views from the other political party on campus.
Interestingly enough, 55% of liberal students also believe that liberal viewpoints should be censored at least some of the time on campus. In comparison, 57% of conservative students say at least some conservative opinions should be censored on campus, indicating that many students from both ends of the political spectrum believe politics should be kept off campus.
Both Sides Equally Opposed to School-Sanctioned Political Views
Sixty-two percent of liberal students somewhat (38%) or strongly (24%) believe that professors should face negative consequences for expressing conservative views in class, and 31% say on-campus clubs affiliated with the Republican party should not qualify for funding from the school.
Similarly, 59% of conservative students somewhat (38%) or strongly (21%) believe that professors should face negative consequences for expressing liberal views in class, and 35% say on-campus clubs affiliated with the Democratic party should not qualify for funding from the school.
However, it is again worth noting that a large percentage from both political sides, especially conservative students, again opposed both club funding and professors expressing political views from their own side, suggesting a distaste for politics interfering with campus life in general.
Liberal Students More Likely to Oppose Conservative Views in Social Settings
Sixty-seven percent of liberal students say they would be somewhat (41%) or very (26%) likely to protest a speaker coming to campus with opposite political views, versus 53% of conservative students who would do the same.
Additionally, 28% of liberal students say they are not likely to willingly associate with a student on campus who has opposite political views, and 63% would be at least somewhat likely to end a friendship with another student if they found out they had opposing political views.
This is notably higher than the 20% of conservative students who say they are not likely to willingly associate with a student with opposite political views and 40% who would end a friendship based on politics.
Both Liberal and Conservative College Students Likely to Vote in Midterms
Ninety-two percent of college students say they are somewhat (42%) or very (50%) likely to vote in the midterm elections. Conservative students ranked healthcare as their number one issue and crime as their second, while liberal students said abortion and gun control were their top issues respectively.
Of the small percentage of students who say they are unlikely to vote in the midterms, many write-in responses conveyed a deep apathy and exhaustion with politics, including sentiments such as, “Both sides are not good. I don’t know who to choose,” “I find politics stupid. So I would rather not vote if I don’t agree with any of the opposing sides,” “I don’t see the point,” and “Not convenient or intriguing.”
The data reveals hypocritical beliefs on both sides of the political spectrum, as the majority of students say they strongly believe in free speech, but around two-thirds would choose to censor the other side’s political views on campus.
However, results also showed a surprising level of support for removing all types of political views from campus, even the participants’ own, suggesting that students are tired of politics seeping into campus life. The majority of students from both parties also appear likely to vote in this year’s midterms despite fighting a growing sense of apathy toward the government’s capabilities.
This survey was commissioned by Intelligent.com and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish from September 21 to September 29, 2022. In total, 1,000 participants in the U.S. were surveyed. All participants had to pass through screening filters to ensure they were between the ages of 18 and 24, currently a student, attending college at least part-time in person, and identified as either very liberal, moderately liberal, very conservative, or moderately conservative. For full survey results, please contact [email protected]