Press Releases | Freedom of Expression

ACTA Survey of Furman Students Exposes High Levels of Self-Censorship and Intolerance for Opposing Viewpoints

February 20, 2024

WASHINGTON, DC—The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) has released the results of a survey that examined Furman University students’ attitudes toward free expression and viewpoint diversity.

ACTA’s survey, conducted with College Pulse, included 284 undergraduate students enrolled at Furman through the 2023 spring and summer semesters. The survey revealed that Furman students do not feel free to express themselves and are unwilling to hear from those with whom they disagree.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Thirty-nine percent of respondents said shouting down a speaker is always or sometimes acceptable.
  • Nine percent of respondents said using violence to prevent someone from speaking is always or sometimes acceptable. This number rose to 27% among students who identify as Democrats, compared to only 6% among Republicans.
  • Forty-eight percent of respondents said they self-censor at least occasionally. Forty percent of Republicans said they self-censor fairly or very often, compared to only 6% of Democrats.

“These survey results show that Furman University, like so many American colleges and universities, is failing to maintain a culture of free expression and openness to viewpoint diversity,” stated Steven McGuire, ACTA’s Paul & Karen Levy Fellow in Campus Freedom. “Given the evident willingness of many Furman students to shut down views they do not like, it is not surprising that so many of their peers feel they cannot share their views on campus. The different experiences of Democratic and Republican students at Furman are especially notable. Republicans are much more likely to self-censor, which means that the whole student body is not regularly hearing the full range of views widely held by segments of the American people on various subjects.”

Furman’s leadership can take action to restore the free exchange of ideas on campus by adopting the measures outlined in ACTA’s Gold Standard for Freedom of Expression™. “It is the solemn duty of governing boards to remove the barriers to free expression at their institutions, wherever those barriers are found,” remarked ACTA President Michael Poliakoff. “They must not accept evasive answers when core freedoms and values are at issue. Americans are properly impatient when they see the money they pay for college so misused that graduates emerge emotionally and intellectually unprepared for the discourse that is fundamental to civic life.”

The survey report can be found here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gabrielle Anglin


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