Results of a University of Wisconsin System survey of student attitudes on free speech and free expression were released Wednesday at UW Oshkosh.
System President Jay Rothman said students were surveyed about why they participate in class discussions. “The students felt they knew enough about the topic, that they cared about the topic and that they were in a class that encouraged discussion,” Rothman explained. “We asked a similar question of those students who didn’t express views in class. Some worried that other students would disagree with their views, or that the instructor would find their views offensive, or that they would get a lower grade.”
Rothman said threats of cuts to state funding should not dissuade the system from allowing viewpoints some may consider unpopular. “We can’t be afraid of the truth and what the survey shows us. We want to make sure we get ourselves better. It is important that our universities continue to be marketplaces of ideas where divergent opinions can be shared and debated and discussed. And I think that at the end of the day is a bipartisan issue.”
Last fall we invited the UW System student body to participate in our survey on free speech. The more than 10K responses we received tell me that students have a strong interest in speech and expression. Here are some key results:
— Jay Rothman (@JayORothman) February 1, 2023
Rothman said more than 10,000 students responded to the survey, with a profile that parallels the UW System student body resulting in a solid sample with low margins of error. “The student response to this survey was strong,” Rothman said. “It provides a foundation for us to evaluate critically what we can do better to enhance civil dialogue at our universities.”
The survey will also provide a roadmap for UW System universities to help students better understand their First Amendment rights and responsibilities, according the the UW System. Full survey results may be viewed here.