Buckley Program Releases Eighth Annual College Student Survey

For Immediate Release

October 25, 2022

Contact: Ari Schaffer, ari@buckleyprogram.com


Buckley Program Releases Eighth Annual College Student Survey 

Highest Ever Recorded Percentages Intimidated from Sharing Opinions on Campus; 13% Increase in Those Intimidated by Peers

Record High Support for Shoutdowns or Violence to Stop Speech

NEW HAVEN, CT – The William F. Buckley, Jr. Program today released the findings of its eighth annual survey measuring the opinions of college students across the U.S. who expressed concerns about free speech but also support efforts to suppress offensive speech in record numbers.

Conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, this national survey of 803 undergraduate students attending four-year colleges and universities shows that today’s college students are less likely to believe the U.S. Constitution is an important document than in past years and that about half of students believe America is inextricably linked to white supremacy.

“The college student disillusionment with free speech is growing at an alarming pace,” said Buckley Program Founder and Executive Director Lauren Noble. “More students are intimidated from speaking freely and more students are willing to intimidate others from speaking freely than at any time in the history of the survey. In many ways, America’s undergraduate student body seems to be abandoning the very ideas that made America the great country it is today.”

Of the students surveyed, 58%, a record high, reported feeling intimidated in sharing an opinion that was different than a professor’s, 8% higher than last year. The number reporting never having had this issue fell to a record low of 38%. A higher 63% reported feeling intimidated in sharing opinions different than their peers, also a record high and a jump of 13% from the 2021 survey.

When it comes to hate speech or offensive speech, for the first time in the history of the survey, the plurality of college students does not believe hate speech is protected by the Constitution. 44%, the highest percentage on record, believe it is okay to shout down speakers. 41%, also a record, believe it is justifiable to use violence to prevent someone from “using hate speech or making racially charged comments.”

America’s college students have turned toward socialism, embraced diversity pledges, and accepted the new movement to announce pronouns during introductions. While a majority consider themselves privileged, less than half would give up a position for someone less privileged than themselves.

Here are some of the main findings of the survey:

Free Speech

  • The number in favor of using violence to stop speech jumped by 5 points to 41% in 2022; the number opposed fell to less than a majority (49%) for the first time.
  • When asked about cultures in which “some types of speech merit the death penalty” and whether they agreed or disagreed with the idea that “some speech can be so offensive that it merits such harsh punishment,” 48% agreed.
  • For the first time in the survey’s history, a plurality (48% vs. 44%) disagree that hate speech is protected by the First Amendment.
  • A record 63% of students reported being intimidated in sharing an opinion that differed from their peers, a jump of 13% from last year.
  • A record 58% of students reported being intimidated in sharing an opinion that differs from their professor, 8% higher than last year.
  • 80%, little changed from previous years, believe the First Amendment to the Constitution is an important amendment.
  • A slim plurality (45%-41%) continue to oppose speech codes regulating speech for students and faculty.

American Values

  • 50% believe America is “America is inextricably linked to white supremacy” versus 42% who think “America is moving forward.”
  • A greater percentage (33%) of students would prefer to live under a socialist system than prefer a capitalist one (31%).
  • 78% believe “systemic racism is a big problem in our society and white people still contribute to it, whether they realize it or not,” including 54% of self-identified conservative students.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • 67% believe that their college or university should require all professors and administrators to make statements in favor of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • 65% believe new employees at “any company, business, or organization” should be required to sign a diversity, equity, and inclusion statement as a condition of employment.
  • While 56% of those surveyed consider themselves privileged, only 49% said they would be willing to “give up a position or job opportunity” for someone less privileged. Among racial groups, the most significant drop was for white students (65% considered themselves privileged but only 49% would give up a position) and Asian students (55% and 42%).

Gender Identity 

  • A plurality (45.1%) of the college students surveyed supported “recently passed legislation restricting discussion about gender identity and sexual topics for children under 10 years old in public schools” versus 43.5% who opposed it
  • A plurality (49.3%) of college students believe it is not fair for transgender athletes to compete in a sports league for a gender different than their gender assigned at birth, versus 40.1% who think transgender individuals should be able to compete in any league they “feel more comfortable in.”
  • 50.8% believe their university or college “should require that students, professors, and faculty state their preferred gender pronouns when introducing themselves.”

The survey toplines can be found here, historical data and charts here, and the full crosstabs here.