Recent poll shows what UT students think about freedom of speech on campus

Mengyuan Dong

Out of 422 UT students who participated in College Pulse’s Freedom of Speech poll so far, 85 percent strongly or somewhat agree UT’s student population and administration values free speech.

More than 80 percent of UT participants also agree the climate on UT’s campus prevents some people from saying what they believe because others might find it offensive.

“I think (frequently) a lot of people out there (are) saying what they want to say,” said Alejandro Abreu, a corporate communication junior. “But it becomes more difficult if some of your opinions don’t align with what the majority seems to think.”

College Pulse, the platform that conducted the poll, is a website that aggregates and shares student public opinion on college campuses through surveys.

“The poll about freedom of speech was voted on by our student users recently, which means that’s something they cared about and wanted to see us run,” said Terren Klein, co-founder and CEO of College Pulse. 

The poll asked 11 questions, ranging from what students think about speech on campus to their thoughts on university policies. It is still open, and has more than 40,000 responses from over 100 U.S. colleges so far. According to the results at time of print, nearly 60 percent of UT students think freedom of speech is secure but not threated on campus currently.

Linguistics junior Nicole Currens said she believes students and groups feel free to express whatever they think.

“There’s a lot of different groups around campus that come from different political spectrum,” Currens said. “They all seem to have no problem holding events and showing different perspectives on issues.”

Abreu, however, agreed with the majority of poll participants that said UT’s campus climate prevents some people from saying what they believe.

“For people who don’t generally have ideas or opinions on campus, it’s still common for them to feel (it is) difficult to say what they need to say,” Abreu said.

Concerning restrictions on freedom of speech, about half of the polled UT students agreed the University has the right to prohibit certain kinds of speech, especially “hate speech.” 

“I don’t think hate speech should be a thing that people should feel like they have to say, although the First Amendment might allow them to say that,” Abreu said. “But if they start doing actual violence for those hate speeches, that’s where it should stop.”