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ACTA Survey Finds Texans Support Strong Actions at University of Texas in Response to Protests

May 7, 2024

May 7, 2024 — Today, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) released the findings from its survey of Texas voters that reveal their thoughts about the wave of protests at the University of Texas–Austin. The results show that Texans broadly support the decision to stop the attempt to occupy the university’s campus. The results of the survey conducted by Basilice & Associates follow:


The results to this statewide survey indicate a large majority of voters support the University of Texas president calling in Texas state troopers to arrest and remove students who were violating campus regulations for large gatherings.  Support (69%) for the UT president’s actions is three times greater than opposition (23%).  Furthermore, those with intense feelings are nearly four times more supportive of the president’s actions (42% strongly support) than those who are opposed (11% strongly oppose).

Chart 1

Support for the UT president calling in the state troopers to arrest and remove students in violations of campus regulations increases as respondent age increases and as awareness about the protests increases.  Support reaches 75% among those who have been following the news a great deal or very much about students and faculty holding protests on campuses of Texas universities.

Other survey findings:

1. Nearly seven out of ten voters (68%) believe that police officers should be brought in to respond to campus protests that violate campus regulations.

“Should police officers be brought in to respond to campus protests that violate campus regulations?”

68% Yes
17% No
15% Unsure

2. Almost three-fourths (73%) of the Texas electorate believe professional organizers of protests should be banned from the campuses of Texas public universities.

“Over half of the people arrested in protests recently at the University of Texas are not students, are not affiliated with the University of Texas, and may be professional organizers of protests. Do you believe professional organizers of protests should be banned from the campuses of Texas public universities?”

73% Yes
17% No
10% Unsure

3. Seven out of ten Texas voters believe the university president should NOT be fired for calling in the state police.

“Some professors at the University of Texas gave objected to the president of the University of Texas calling in the state police to arrest students. These professors have demanded that the President of the university be fired. Do you believe the university president should be fired for calling in the state police?

15% Yes
70% No
15% Unsure

Interviewing was conducted May 2-5, 2024, among N=602 Texas voters. The margin of error to the results of the 602 interviews is + 4.0% at the .95 confidence interval.  This survey was conducted online among panelists, and the respondents of this survey are representative of the ages, gender, race/ethnicity and partisan vote behavior of voters who participate in elections. The partisanship of the respondents in this survey was 47% Republican, 37% Democratic and 16% Independent.

ACTA President Dr. Michael Poliakoff observed, “Freedom of speech is the bedrock of American freedom and the lifeblood of teaching, learning, and research at our colleges and universities. It can only flourish when there is rule of law. In a pluralistic, democratic society, no single group, no matter how vocal and no matter for what cause, should be allowed to commandeer indefinitely for its own, the shared public square of the university campus. This is because the university serves a special civic function as the marketplace of ideas, and it is appropriate and necessary for it to have codes of conduct that regulate the use of its campus facilities toward that end. When demonstrators insist not on peaceful protest but ‘occupation’ with the intent to disrupt campus life by force, they interfere with essential functions of the university and threaten the safety and well-being of the thousands of others who share that space. In that circumstance, university leaders must act. Sound leadership prevents the awful scenes that we have witnessed at Columbia University, the University of California–Los Angeles, and elsewhere—as well as the corrosive capitulations at Brown University and Northwestern University. University of Texas–Austin President Jay Hartzell accepted the responsibility to enforce important campus rules. Going forward, all institutions should find ways to move beyond the echo chambers, the monoculture that so miseducates students by seducing them to believe that coercion and intimidation are more legitimate than engaging in dialogue and debate with those with whom they disagree.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Gabrielle Anglin


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