Self Censorship on University of Wisconsin Campuses

Kayla Huyhn:

A majority of University of Wisconsin System students don’t feel free to share their opinions about controversial topics or are unwilling to consider views they disagree with, according to results released Wednesday from a survey that has stirred controversy across the 13 campuses.

Initial pushback led the System to postpone the first iteration of the survey last spring, though it was later sent to over 83,000 UW System students in November. Nearly 10,500 students completed the survey, a 12.5% response rate. 

The survey asked students their perceptions of viewpoint diversity, self-censorship and freedom of expression on campus. It also included questions about how likely students are to consider viewpoints they disagree with, including on abortion, COVID-19 vaccines, racial inequity and transgender issues. 

The results showed that most students hadn’t learned about the First Amendment in any of their courses, and that some believed it was acceptable for their university to ban speakers who’ve made offensive and harmful statements.