One of the current urban legends circulating about is that college students are intolerant to a diversity of views and have a selective attitude towards free speech. Epitomized by a few highly publicized cases highlighted in the media, especially conservative ones, the idea of intolerance as a feature at colleges and universities has now become part of the conventional wisdom. But, is it true?
As usually happens with legends, impressions may be just a reflection of a distorted reality.
According to a study carried out last year but published a few weeks ago by Gallup and the Knight Foundation, stu- dents’ attitudes toward free speech shows support for open learning environments that protect free speech while promot- ing diversity and inclusion. The study was carried out by randomly surveying 3,014 U.S. college students from 39 public and private institutions across the U.S., including six historically black colleges or universities, to gain a sense of what those college students think about First Amendment issues. The results of the study challenge conventional wisdom.